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Truckies warn of supply shortages unless they’re recognised as essential workers

“For a supply chain in Australia to be truly national, we need jurisdictions to have a uniform set of rules – particularly during a pandemic when communities need certainty about availability and supply of fuel, food and medicines.”

The sector is also awaiting the approval of rapid antigen tests deliver to results in 15-20 minutes from state authorities.

Victorian Transport Association chief executive Peter Anderson said drivers had complained of difficulty parking large vehicles near testing sites and that long queues meant drivers were getting tested outside working hours, reducing rest time and increasing fatigue.

He said several truckies had also been turned away from health facilities simply because they had declared they had travelled interstate for work.

Acting Australian Trucking Association chief executive Bill McKinley said in times of stress and uncertainty his members had been working around the clock to ensure operators can keep moving.

“It is now time for states and territory governments to show their support by implementing these agreed changes through their health orders,” he said.

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Transport Workers’ Union Michael Kaine said truck drivers threatening to bring the country to a standstill on Tuesday over long delays crossing state borders and the push for mandatory vaccines were not supported by the union.

He told Sydney radio 2GB that industries needed to be consulted over “snap health decisions” but the planned strike is “not a TWU sanctioned approach”.

“There’s a right way and a radical way. I understand the anger that underpins this but I think we all need to take a step back and look at the underlying issues and seek rectification of those,” he said.

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said on Friday states and territories were standing up additional testing facilities along key freight routes, intermodals and hubs to assist freight workers to more readily access testing facilities.

“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,” Mr Buchholz said.

“This is also why I am encouraging all freight workers to get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible, to help protect your community, and I commend those transport operators who are assisting with the vaccination effort within the sector.

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