I am afraid that I am an eternal optimist, but my resolve is being put under severe pressure, as we wait, expecting rationality from the government on the rules around transport and Covid-19.
This week has seen the proposal of a rational way of looking at the problems of getting freight around the country, across borders safely and efficiently. Unfortunately, it has come from a source which means it will be ignored and rejected as the various governments, both federal and state continue to see a global health crisis, which is killing people in Australia, as an opportunity to score political points and to try and garner votes in an upcoming election.
The problem source? The Transport Workers Union, itself far from averse to political point scoring, and the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation. The fact of the matter is they have been thinking about the issue, asking expert advice and have proposed a covid-safe Transport Roadmap.
It doesn’t matter where the initial impetus comes from, but the trucking industry is crying out for a single national plan around border crossing requirements, accessible vaccination locations and a clear indication of exactly what any freight vehicle will meet on its journey, getting the stuff the population and the economy needs, from A to B.
The introduction of rapid antigen testing has been discussed and asked for a lot in the last few months, but nothing seems to have been done at a governmental level. Stopping a truck at each border and submitting the driver to a test which will yield results in minutes seems to be a solution, which has been widely ignored by most states.
Vaccination locations where truck drivers can come in and get a jab are few and far between. Operations like Qantas are going to mandate full vaccination, but we are not seeing the same kind of resolve on the part of those regulating the trucking industry’s workforce, who have the same kind of widespread movement all across the country.
The headlong drive to get as many people as possible vaccinated may well be the right strategy for the current situation. However, the report on which all of this relies, from the Doherty Institute, still talks about the need for a regime to reduce the spread of covid and the need for lockdowns and contact tracing.
Some sort of rational overall plan would make sense in this situation and the one proposed by the TWU seems to be heading in the right direction.
Don’t worry about me, however, I will be over in the corner, holding my breath and waiting for rationality from the government.