MARITIME Industry Australia has noted that National Cabinet’s decision on Friday to streamline COVID-19 measures for land-based freight does not address the maritime sector.

MIAL said the decision was a welcome development, as anything that can be done to help industries function safely and efficiently under COVID-19 safety measures is laudable.

However, MIAL said “there is one mega ship-sized hole in this plan for continued movement of goods to families and communities, a nonsensical omission for an island nation”.

“The maritime sector, unlike land transport sectors – which have had facilitated border movements throughout the pandemic (albeit with some inconsistencies) – has hard borders in place around the country for maritime workers,” MIAL said in a statement.

“At best, this makes it very difficult for workers to move to their place of work and home again. All too often, it has become impossible.

“This has left frontline maritime workers; unable to work, subjected to repeated periods in quarantine on top of their already months-long stints at work far from home; businesses crippled as they cannot plan on when, or if, their workforce will arrive; and industries at risk of slowdowns or stoppages.

“Maritime workers are critical to ensuring that the supply of goods and services that Australians need and want is not disrupted and that the trade-reliant Australian economy continues to function.”

MIAL called on National Cabinet to:

  • apply the same level of attention,
  • apply the same rationale for action,
  • apply the same consideration for the vital workers working at sea, and
  • provide a safe and workable protocol for cross border movements for vital maritime workers.

“We can see a fantastic effort being put into place for land transport, we’d like to see the same for sea,” MIAL said.