Updated freight code to keep heavy vehicles moving — for now

Streamlined measures for freight operators to ensure the efficient movement of goods have been announced by the Federal Government in conjunction with states and territories. 

The changes come in response to backlash from the commercial road transport industry as its workers continue to navigate conflicting COVID-safe policy between separate state and territory jurisdictions.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Barnaby Joyce said the changes would help keep the country functioning as it should.

“With many Australians currently experiencing lockdown, one of the most important things we can do is ensure families can continue to reliably source the things they need, like food and basic goods, in a safe manner,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“Freight workers are well and truly amongst Australia’s most vital workers, helping to feed families and communities, keeping businesses functioning, and underpinning a strong economy.

“We need to keep our truckies, train drivers and other freight industry workers, their families and our communities safe and well while they continue their vital work.

“A week ago we had eight different sets of rules on testing for freight workers.”

Under the revised National Freight Movement Code and Protocol, discussed at last week’s National Cabinet meeting, freight workers, according to Joyce, crossing state and territory borders will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test result in a rolling seven-day period.

In some cases, however, workers may also need to be tested more frequently depending on particular requirements in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. 

The agreement purports to help ensure more than half the jurisdictions will be following what Government have claimed to be a single, simple approach to testing.

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said the updated set of rules across jurisdictions will ensure freight can move efficiently and testing is as consistent as possible something the transport sector has been urgently calling for.

“We want to ensure the transport industry continues the great work they have done throughout the pandemic, while carrying out vital freight activities to keep supermarkets stocked and other goods moving in the safest way possible,” Buchholz said.

“States and territories are also standing up additional testing facilities along key freight routes, intermodals and hubs to assist freight workers to more readily access testing facilities, in line with AHPPC advice.

“These streamlined testing rules complement all the COVID-safe practices our freight workers already comply with to help keep the community safe, like social distancing, using masks and hand sanitiser, and checking in to assist contact tracing.”