Changes underway to bolster struggling supply chain workforce

The Australian transport, freight and logistics sector has welcomed the National Cabinet’s decision to relieve pressures on the industry’s workforce.

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport, Scott Buchholz said the changes from the latest National Cabinet meeting were the result of Government working with and listening to the needs of industry.

“Throughout this pandemic we have worked closely with the transport and freight industry, including peak bodies and the Federal Government has today acted swiftly and decisively,” he said in a statement to media.

“Following today’s announcement, transport operators that have a driver who was previously deemed a close contact, if they are non-symptomatic and return a negative test – they can leave isolation, return to work behind the wheel and keep supplies moving,” said Buchholz.

Buchholz echoed statements made this week by State Premiers and the Prime Minister in reiterating policy had been shaped around protecting hospitals and ensuring both society and the economy continued to function.

“This is recognition of the critical nature of the transport, freight and logistics sector,” he continued.

“We cannot keep the economy functioning and Australia moving, without a strong transport, freight and logistics sector and the workforce,” said Buchholz.

“These changes will help address some of the pressures industry has been telling us about and will enable critical workers to get back to work. We are encouraged by the increase in people returning to work from the previous changes made to close contact classifications.”

Despite hospitals nearing breaking point from loss of staff who have quit or become ill Buchholz continued to push for vaccinations, encouraging uptake for the latest booster shot.

“We are aware other pressures exist but we are optimistic about the changes being made and we will keep working with industry and working to get the balance right,” he said.

Chairman of the Australian Trucking Association, David Smith has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement today and agreed there is more work to do.

“Whilst the ATA agrees it is a great step forward and these changes will support our industry, the sector knows that there is no silver bullet. As the Prime Minister said today, we are recalibrating our approach regularly,” said Smith.

“We will continue to explore entrepreneurial ways, alongside state and federal government initiatives, through the National Cabinet process, which support the industry during this pandemic.

“I want to acknowledge the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Assistant Minister Scott Buchholz for the work they have done on supply chain issues.

“Workforce shortages were a problem pre-pandemic and the new driver apprenticeship announced last year is a longer-term approach, right now we need to find more non-traditional means of support and I acknowledge the work the Federal Government has undertaken to address the issues and shortages pertaining to AdBlue supplies for the nation.

“The ATA will continue to work closely with its members, state and federal governments – to bring certainty to the national supply chain,” Smith concluded.