FREIGHT and transport bodies have called on governments to remember freight as authorities prepare to close border crossings between New South Wales and Victoria.

This follows a spike in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne and localised lockdown cases.

The closure will take effect from 11.59pm on Tuesday.

There are understood to be 55 border crossings between the states, but key ones include the Hume Highway at Albury-Wodonga linking Melbourne and Sydney and the Newell Highway at Tocumwal, the latter road being a long distance link between Melbourne and Brisbane.

While trucks still are expected to be allowed across the border, the Australian Logistics Council said there still could be issues for freight.

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“Border closures need to recognise the essential nature of freight movement and border checks must not delay freight vehicles,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.

“ALC encourages NSW to emulate the approach taken by Queensland. This includes establishing dedicated lanes for freight vehicles at road border check points and exempting freight vehicle drivers from any need to apply for entry passes,” he said.

“NSW authorities need to take a practical approach and ensure border controls still allow supply chains to flow efficiently and essential goods to get to households and businesses.”

The Transport Workers Union issued a statement saying it would be seeking ongoing assurances by governments that trucking would without changes.

“Trucking is an essential service which is vital to ensure that goods continue to be made available to the public and other essential services in this time of crisis,” the TWU said in their statement.

“This means, trucks must continue to move between borders without any issues.”

“Transport Workers Union VIC/TAS Branch Secretary will be seeking meetings with both the Victorian and New South Wales State Ministers for Transport to discuss the imminent border closure.”

Victorian Transport Assocaton CEO Peter Anderson said they had been engaging with governments and the broader freight industry about the border closure.

“As we have experienced with other jurisdictions, the freight transport industry will be excluded from the closure with freight and logistics being an essential service,” Mr Anderson said.

“A permit or exemption will be required for all persons entering NSW carrying out essential work. These will be achievable online with the exact web address yet to be defined.

VTA chief executive Peter Anderson. Credit: David Sexton

“With the Hume Highway being one of the world’s busiest freight corridors, we are grateful the freight industry is able to continue working to keep supply chains and the economy moving.”

Mr Anderson said the VTA would be advocating to ensure border crossings processes were the same at every crossing and freight delays were minimal.

“We will continue to keep our members updated on any new border crossing procedures, and that they take steps to ensure their drivers are not reporting to work if they are unwell, to get tested for COVID-19 if they experience symptoms and understand their responsibility in managing this pandemic,” he said.

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