Truckies call for work to be considered ‘essential’
THE government has announced the Queensland border will be closed from midnight on Wednesday to help contain the spread of coronavirus.
Anyone who enters Queensland from the air or by road will be forced to isolate themselves for 14 days from Wednesday night.
Southern Downs MP James Lister took to social media to vent his frustrations about not being consulted about the decision to close the Queensland border.
"As an MP representing an electorate with 400km of border country and many border towns and villages, I should have been consulted, but I wasn't," he posted.
"I doubt that the decision was made with the benefit of all of the facts."
He said people who lived in border areas, such as Stanthorpe, deserved to have their voices heard.
"I have asked the Premier to urgently advise me of what measures she will put into place to soften the blow of the border closure on my border-region constituents," he wrote.
Meanwhile, Australian Trucking Association chairman Geoff Crouch said the National Cabinet must continue to regard trucking as an essential industry in any plans for further business shutdowns.
"Governments have started to shut down non-essential services, with stage one focusing on businesses like pubs, gyms, movies and nightclubs," Mr Crouch said.
"As the National Cabinet considers whether further shutdowns are necessary, the Prime Minister, premiers and chief ministers must ensure that trucking and its related industries continue to be regarded as essential."
That's exactly what Stanthorpe's Lindsay Transport depot manager Shane Wilkins presumes will happen.
Mr Wilkins said the company did not face any restrictions at the moment, and hoped the service was considered essential by the government.
"Travel has been cancelled for drivers with non-essential items, but we need to be considered essential," he said.
The company transports essential food items across Australia, and 66 staff and 22 trucks are based in Stanthorpe.
"It's forever changing hour by hour. We just have to continue to keep up with the high demand and take on whatever is thrown at us," Mr Wilkins said.
"We have 495 crosses of the border every day to deliver essential food supplies. Currently as it stands we are still there to cross the borders and it needs to stay that way."
Lindsay Transport truck driver Marvin Durrant said while continuing to operate across borders increased his and his colleagues' risk of contracting the virus, it was a risk they had to take.
"We are constantly going into Sydney and there is a good chance that we are going to catch it," Mr Durrant said.
"You just have to be mentally fit to be doing what we are doing at the moment I think."
Mr Durrant said health and safety measures were being implemented now more than ever.
"We are taking the precautions that health authorities are telling us to take," he said.
"Shane is doing a great job at that and making sure all the trucks are getting disinfected and things like that.
"We just have to keep going, because if we stop then the whole place is just going to fall apart."
Finer details of the border closure will be finalised and released later today.
Health and government officials are trying to stop the virus from spreading, but they are desperate for citizens to play their part.
That means staying at home and avoiding in-person social interactions for weeks to curb its transmission.