Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport, Scott Buchholz has welcomed the Prime Ministers announcement of a National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) .
Minister Buchholz said the Commission would work to anticipate and mitigate the economic and social effects of the global coronavirus pandemic and work with Ministers and industry to resolve matters of national significance.
Welcoming the appointment of Mr Neville Power as Chairman, Mr Buchholz said Mr Power had the expertise, commitment and high-level understanding required to assist in these challenging times.
“I’ve known Neville a very long time. He is a great Australian that will move heaven and earth in the interest of all Australians.
“I welcome his appointment and look forward to working him on matters relating to our freight and transport sector, the entire supply chain and ensuring we’re supporting our truckies – especially at this tough time – to get the job done,” Mr Buchholz said.
Mr Buchholz said now more than ever we must work together at all levels of government, with regulators and industry bodies to ensure all border closures announced by state and territory governments and any other issues arising from the Coronavirus pandemic, permit the free and uninterrupted movement of freight.
“Road freight plays such a critical role in our lives and in our economy, but at this time of crisis it has truly been seen by all Australians.
“Our road freighters are the critical link in the supply chain that has been successfully moving supplies from ports, from farms and factory’s – that means food, medicines, fuels and supplies that we rely on heavily each and every single day,” Minister Buchholz said.
Mr Buchholz said uniformity was at the centre of all discussions and the sector needed to be enabled to deliver the essential supplies around our nation, because without trucks, Australia stops.
“Our focus remains around obtaining uniformity at each of the States’ borders and I’ll be ensuring the Covid-19 Commission is aware of the importance of and need to support the transport sector.
“I am in regular contact with the industry bodies, seeking their feedback and listening to what is happening on the ground, so we can act proportionately and quickly.”
“We are aware of the significance of freight and the workforce to the horticultural and agricultural sector in Australia, especially at this time and particularly in areas like regional Australia.
“I’ve spoken with a number of growers about their concerns to ensure they are able to pick and transport the produce that ultimately ends up on our tables.
“We understand the immediate concerns of availability of workforce and are working to ensure we implement procedures to make sure we can keep trucks on the road and food on the table,” Mr Buchholz said.
Mr Buchholz also welcomed the other board members, who have been appointed to advise on non-health related aspects of the pandemic response and included Mr Greg Combet AM, Ms Jane Halton AO, Mr Paul Little AO, Ms Catherine Tanna and Mr David Thodey AO (Deputy Chair).
“Those forming the Commission have a wide range of cross-sector experience and will be at the forefront of ensuring Australia comes out the other side of this,” Mr Buchholz said.