Ports sector COVID-19 transparency

Australia’s peak ports authority has highlighted the need for more transparency around government measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, calling for a regularly updated summary document.

Recent times have seen a heavy flow of information coming from federal, state and territory authorities outlining the measures in place to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and keep trade moving. 

Ports Australia has worked closely with industry and government to ensure those measures are well placed in keeping port staff safe, so they continue their essential service of providing Australia with what it needs to survive.

Australian Border Force (ABF) has made clear that local authorities may enforce additional requirements over and above those outlined by ABF directives. 

There have been many examples in March 2020, most recently with the Western Australian Government announcing the closure of their borders (with measures in place for continuing maritime trade).

Ports Australia’s CEO, Mike Gallacher, has expressed his appreciation for the work being done around the nation, but underlined the need for greater transparency.

“COVID-19 remains a fluid situation and one creating unique challenges for all, evident as we see the measures enforced on a federal level being built upon by individual states and territories to serve their unique conditions and risk assessments,” Mr Gallacher said.

“Ports Australia encourages this necessary process to continue, however is calling for more transparency around the current protocols set by all levels of government.”

The authority believes greater transparency may be achieved through a routinely updated document issued by the Federal Government in collaboration with each state or territories’ most relevant government entity, which concisely outlines the current practices around the nation. 

Mr Gallacher said that such a measure would hold real value for all members of the supply chain – ports, shipping lines, importers and exporters alike.

“We appreciate many industry members have produced documents like this in recent weeks, but for consistency and reliability, we believe it should be government-produced and regularly updated,” he said.

“After raising this in an industry-wide teleconference chaired by Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, we’re confident the Federal Government will see this as a necessity and respond promptly to ensure ongoing industry confidence.

“Greater transparency creates greater awareness across government, industry and the public, and bridges communication gaps which cannot exist in a strong-functioning supply chain. The last thing we want to see is a lack of accessible information creating uncertainty across our trade networks and causing cracks to appear in our vital supply chain.”

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