Fresh calls for government COVID-19 plan

Ports Australia is urging governments to safeguard the supply chain by planning now before lockdowns are lifted across the country.

The peak body representing Australia’s ports have asked for health departments around Australia to do the planning with industry now.

Whether or not workers are vaccinated, Ports Australia’s CEO Mike Gallacher says there must be plans for when outbreaks spread through workforces along the supply chain, be it port staff, truckies, rail operators, or anyone in between. He adds small pockets of those workforces being stood down is the best-case scenario, however, the time may come where an entire port’s operational labour force is struck.

Ports Australia urges authorities begin facilitating desktop exercises whereby industry and government can collaborate through real scenarios of workforce virus outbreaks and the like, ironing out the approach and management to situations which could become reality in coming months,” he says. “This initiative can be driven by the Federal Government and executed by government departments across individual jurisdictions.”

“Once such planning has been completed, industry members will need clear direction from their relevant health and safety authorities as to the protocols in place to protect their workers and maintain the flow of trade.”

Mike says the peak body is not currently aware of any contingency plans being coordinated by government authorities for when outbreaks inevitably occur at key supply chain points, like ports or intermodal terminals.

“The fragility of our economy and the looming threat of a recession will be crystallised like never before if we see unprecedented shutdowns along the supply chain,” he says.

“We, the supply chain, know our job and we’ve got Australia’s back, but we need the assurance from government they have a firm understanding of how we operate which is reflected through their planning to protect our people and operations.”

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