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Transport not consulted in idea to open WA, NT, SA borders

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Northern Territory Road Transport Association, Executive Office Louise Bilato.
Northern Territory Road Transport Association, Executive Office Louise Bilato.

NT ROAD Transport Association chief executive Louise Bilato says the state's transport industry has not heard from Darwin's Major Business Group leader Ian Kew about his push to open the borders between NT, Western Australia and South Australia.

Ms Bilato said the NTRTA had instead worked very closely with the NT Government and its trucking operators have been working very efficiently both within the NT and crossing borders with COVID-19 Management Plans in place.

"The administrative burden of the border control measures has reduced significantly, although we are yet to understand the full impact of South Australia's record keeping requirements introduced on May 11," she said.

"Our role is to continue to ensure that our drivers remain safe, and do not inadvertently transmit the coronavirus across borders."

Ms Bilato said one of the benefits of having the secure borders in place was that NT pubs would be opening on Friday and a lot of other small businesses in the NT would be able to go back to work.

The NT Chief Minister, Michael Gunner, has outlined a clear road map, and the road transport industry was consulted about this, she said.

"Ian Kew has not made any attempts to consult with the road transport industry in relation to his idea."

Mr Kew told the NT News that the business group believed that with the right protocols in place, that the NT, SA and WA borders should be opened sooner rather than later, despite the NT Chief Minister's intention for the borders to remain closed until all Australian borders were open.

Western Roads Federation chief executive Cam Dumesny said whilst the Darwin Business Group's ideas "sounded good in theory", the blunt economic reality was that the state had to protect its mining and agriculture industry.

"However, improvements could be made in the cross-border process between the three jurisdictions to make cross border transport easier," he said.

South Australian Road Transport Association boss Steve Shearer said looking at the statistics, SA, WA and the NT were the best three performing jurisdictions in terms of rates of infection.

"If borders are going to open, you'd think they would be the first ones to open," he said.

Mr Shearer supported SA premier Steven Marshall's intention of not to open borders unless medical advice supported it.

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