INTERSTATE truck drivers struggling to make sense of quarantine requirements are pleading for consistent rules for the entire country.
Despite a National Cabinet agreement last week on a protocol for moving freight and screening drivers, Henty trucker Steve Richardson said many - including himself - have been left confused as each state government pushes out different messages.
Mr Richardson, who travels across the NSW-Victorian border daily, said it was unclear if truck drivers from NSW are required or just encouraged to be tested every seven to 14 days.
"They are definitely not clear. Everyone is muddled up because one person says one thing while another says something else," he said.
Mr Richardson said a good starting point is to roll out nationwide rules for those interstate truck drivers crossing the border everyday and for each state to abide by them in order to clear up the confusion.
In other news:
The Australian Trucking Association chairman David Smith said the states' COVID-19 testing requirements are "a national crisis that will shut the national trucking industry down" if they are not fixed by the end of the week.
"It is complete chaos and is completely unnecessary," he said. "Australia's trucking businesses and drivers have done a great job throughout the pandemic and are now being shoved around because the states are ignoring the national agreement they signed.
"We do not know if NSW requires truck drivers to be screened or if they just encourage it. In Victoria, truck drivers are being told they must self-isolate after a screening test, even though they do not have symptoms."
Mr Smith said the NSW government has since clarified that truck drivers screened for COVID-19 are not required to self-isolate while awaiting the results, provided that they do not have any symptoms.
"This news is a positive step for the industry, but there is still much more that needs to be done to solve this crisis," he said.
The Australian Trucking Association board had been in crisis talks with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack yesterday following the collapse of the interstate agreement.
Mr Smith said the board asked the federal government to press the state governments to implement the protocol as agreed upon and ensure testing requirements, including self-isolation, were clarified and consistent.
"If drivers are required to be screened, there must [be] appropriate facilities in place," he said.
Mr Smith said 24-hour, seven days a week pop-up screening facilities need to be established along major freight routes to keep up with demand.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said state governments remain responsible for the operation of domestic border controls, but the federal government understand the complexity this presents to freight operators who are often crossing multiple borders in one trip.
"The Australian government appreciates the concerns raised by industry and will continue to work closely with states, territories and industry to implement this protocol ... to ensure freight continues to flow in a COVIDSafe manner," he said.
"The intent of the protocol is that freight workers subject to routine testing under the protocol would not need to meet the usual requirements for self-isolation unless they are displaying symptoms."