Tuesday, 21 September 2021 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY Page 7199/7200
The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (15:08): My question is to the Premier. Can the Premier advise the house on the testing arrangements for truck drivers bringing goods from interstate into South Australia given their irregular working hours? With your leave, and that the house, sir, I will explain further.
The Hon. G.G. BROCK: As we know, there have been occasions just recently when visiting truck drivers have attempted to have the required testing according to the rules. However, no testing facilities were open or could not accommodate their test or immunisation at that time, especially in regional South Australia.
One of the things that we are all concerned about, as we understand—and I had a briefing with the assistant to the CEO of SA Health today; we had that but we couldn’t get this question in—is that we don’t want these people to stop bringing goods into South Australia because otherwise we will be completely in a lot of trouble.
The Hon. S.S. MARSHALL (Dunstan—Premier) (15:09): I thank the member for Frome for his question. We have been working with the transport sector right throughout this coronavirus pandemic and it has been a very, very tough burden on our truck drivers and those working in the transport sector right across the country. Right throughout this coronavirus pandemic, they have been subjected to higher level testing and surveillance than just about any other sector in our economy and have done an outstanding job.
They have kept our country rolling, so to speak, and they have kept food on the table and goods moving between jurisdictions when other people have not been able to go across that border. We did, at the national cabinet level, working with all the individual transport ministers, negotiate a transport agreement.
Since that time, and in particular in response to the situation that occurred in South Australia where we had six separate positive cases in about a two-week period, we did move to even further tighten the arrangements with regard to truck drivers in South Australia and move towards requiring them to be vaccinated. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for that vaccination to be completed.
One of the things that SARTA said to us is, if you are going to require people to be vaccinated, then you have to make it as easy as possible for them. They can’t really basically pull up their truck, go in and have a test that might take an extended period of time with them in line. Certainly, if they had just got into the queue, it would take sometimes weeks or months for them to have that vaccination. So we worked with SARTA, we worked with the transport companies in South Australia, to try to make that vaccination process as streamlined as possible.
With regard to the current arrangements for testing, which I think was the substance of the question from the member for Frome, we do have differential arrangements so people can come across the border. My understanding is that they must have had a test that returned a negative result within 72 hours of coming into South Australia. If not, they are required to have a test within 12 hours of entering South Australia, but I will just check that that remains current; it does move around.
I am hopeful that as a greater proportion of our truck drivers in South Australia and our transport workers in South Australia and across the border—those people coming into South Australia—are vaccinated, our risk reduces and that means that we can move to a less onerous testing regime for these people.
I do want to place on the record my grateful thanks to all those working in the transport sector. As I said, it is very, very tough for those people and we are very grateful for what they have done. We are very grateful for the way that they have subjected themselves to very, very high-level surveillance and scrutiny. They are often dislocated from family for extended periods of time. We would have been absolutely lost without them and so I do want to put on the record my grateful thanks to them.