The National Cabinet has ruled out a proposal to change the age requirements for forklift drivers to 16 years and older.
The proposal was put forth by Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, in response to supply chain labour shortages, which have been exacerbated by the Omicron wave of coronavirus, with employees becoming sick or having to isolate.
All states and territories unanimously rejected the proposal during a National Cabinet Meeting. Most states consider forklift operation to be a high-risk work environment, and currently applicants must be 18 years or older to apply for a license.
A statement by the Prime Minister said:
“National Cabinet considered the trucking industry’s proposals to support the freight and logistics effort including reducing the age of eligibility to apply for a forklift license, recognition of New Zealand truck driver licenses in Australia and having experience or competency based licencing for heavy vehicle driver licenses.
“New Zealand and Australian driver license matters have been referred to the National Cabinet Infrastructure and Transport Reform Committee for consideration and National Cabinet agreed not to progress the industry’s proposed forklift license changes.”
In a statement, Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory, Andrew Barr, said, “Sensible and safe measures to alleviate workforce shortages have been supported but allowing 16-year olds to drive a forklift was unanimously rejected by all States and Territories at today’s meeting.
“The ACT Government continues to work closely with employers, industrial representatives and the NGO sector to ensure that workplaces remain safe, with further guidance to be made available in the coming days.”
National Cabinet will meet again on 27 January, 2022 to discuss further measures to alleviate supply chain issues.