The logistics and transport industry is calling for more transparency from state Governments following the temporary closure of the NSW and Victorian border, with the Victorian Shadow Minister for Ports and Freight voicing concerns that delays in obtaining permits have the potential to disrupt the already fragile supply chain.
The Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) have publically shared comments from the Victorian Shadow Minister for Ports and Freight, Roma Britnell, highlighting concerns to obtain permits ahead of time.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the closure of the border with New South Wales following discussions with prime minister Scott Morrison on Monday 6 July.
The closure will be effective from 12.01am Wednesday, 8 July and follows the concerning spread of COVID-19 in Melbourne.
“The freight routes between NSW and Victoria are the busiest in the nation and businesses need to know now what their obligations will be ahead of time,” The Victorian Shadow Minister for Ports and Freight said to the industry association.
“Any delays in obtaining permits have the potential to disrupt the already fragile supply chain,
“The minister needs to provide advice well ahead of the planned border closure on Wednesday 8 July, to clear up any confusion and to ensure freight can continue to move freely and get to where it needs to be.”
FTA/APSA said in a weekly report to its members that they has received advice from Transport for NSW executive that the Government body are continuing to work closely with NSW Health, NSW Police, industry stakeholders and operational professionals around a number of important issues including freight operations and logistics.
“Assurances have been given that special conditions will be in place for freight operations and logistics as well as other critical services,” FTA/APSA said to its members on Tuesday 7 July.
NSW ports and airports remain open for freight imports and exports and Australian Border Force advice supports vessels and aircraft arriving in Australian ports, subject to meeting specified criteria.
The NSW Government said in a statement Gladys “stressed the border closure is a temporary measure”.
“As I have said before, it is in our national interest for borders to be open,” Gladys said.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said a hard border would be established at appropriate locations to enforce the border closure.
Transport for NSW stated that the NSW Government has announced a number of restrictions on facilities and gatherings to help reduce the spread of Coronavirus, however a gathering for the purposes of or relating to transportation is an essential gathering and therefore the restrictions on gatherings in the Order do not apply.
The border with South Australia was closed to Victoria by the state last week, and though freight is deemed nationally as an an essential service, freight workers such as truck drivers must undertake form-filling to enter South Australia.
John Berger, Transport Workers Union (TWU) Victoria and Tasmanian branch said trucking is an essential service which is vital to ensure that goods continue to be made available to the public and other essential services in this time of crisis.
“Trucks must continue to move between borders without any issues,” he said.
Transport Workers Union VIC/TAS Branch Secretary will be seeking meetings with both the Victorian and New South Wales State Ministers for Transport to discuss the imminent border closure and receive clarity about any measures in place, including clarity that truck drivers will be exempt from self-isolation requirements.