Truckers to remain unaffected, despite TWU concerns

By Daniel Hughes

The transport industry should be able to avoid negative impacts of the border closure between NSW and Victoria, according to Berrigan's Kel Baxter.

Mr Baxter is managing director at Kel Baxter Transport, and said despite Monday's shock announcement to close the borders it should be "business as usual" for the industry.

The Transport Workers Union's Victoria/Tasmania branch is not so confident however, and is seeking assurances from both state governments that trucking employees will be classified as essential.

"I believe for us it will stay business as usual,” Mr Baxter said.

"We are transporting a lot of grain to flour mills between Victoria and New South Wales. A lot of what we move ends up for human consumption, so the border closures shouldn't impact us.

“We are running an essential service, and we've been running grain to Brisbane this whole time (across Queensland border closures) with no problems.

“Trucks have been allowed to cross through other borders, so I imagine it will stay the same with this new border closure.”

The TWU is also seeking assurances that truck drivers will be supplied with hand sanitiser, masks, gloves and information at each border crossing.

It also wants assurances that truck stops will stay open so that drivers can still access rest areas for food and showers, which should be cleaned and disinfected adequately.

Mr Baxter said the industry was forced to lobby major service stations earlier in the year for bathroom facilities to remain open for drivers during early lockdown procedures.

“I don't think it will be difficult for drivers to find truck spots.

“I would expect that truck stops will remain open, we've had to lobby service stops earlier this year to keep their bathroom and shower facilities open and cleaned regularly so I believe that will continue now.

Mr Baxter said the key to the industry operating during the border closures is businesses taking necessary precautions to ensure the safety of staff and drivers.

"At our office specifically, we have a temperature gun and all of our paperwork will be done through glass as we're closing our office doors for now,” Mr Baxter said.

“A lot of sites on both ends of the supply chain have their office doors closed and the drivers are to keep their distance at all times.

“Our trucks don't drive through the Melbourne CBD, we're not heading into hot spots and drivers take their rest breaks outside the city.

“When they do deliveries to hotspot areas they maintain their distance to other employees."