Media Release

Container terminal outbreaks highlights need for greater planning

Posted on
September 22, 2021

With employees at DP World’s and Hutchison Ports’ Port Botany terminals and Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) in Melbourne testing positive to COVID-19 and other workers sent into quarantine, the need for greater government engagement with industry before lockdowns begin lifting is clearer than ever.

DP World, Hutchison Ports Australia, and VICT are working closely with the NSW and Victorian Departments of Health respectively to identify close or casual contacts to ensure the health and safety of employees and the community. Despite the impact on their workforce, all will continue their operations after closing their terminals for short periods of time for deep cleaning and are working to minimise disruption to their critical function of loading and discharging containers filled with essential goods.

This further highlights Ports Australia’s urge for government to begin engaging and planning with industry on how these situations are managed once their likelihood drastically increases as state lockdowns are lifted.

Desktop exercises are valuable ways of combining industry and government authorities to work through scenarios like these we’ve seen at Port Botany. Ports Australia believes the Federal Government should begin coordinating state and territory governments to begin carrying out such exercises with industry within their jurisdictions.

Ports Australia’s CEO, Mike Gallacher stressed this won’t be the only occurrence of its kind as the months to come see lockdowns lift and preparation must start now.

‘If this instance of COVID-19 invading a workforce has occurred while Sydney and Melbourne are still under hard lockdown, one can only imagine the likelihood of such instances once we begin living with the virus and our supply chain workers are exposed by the community whether vaccinated or not,’ Mike said.

‘We’re fortunate to have avoided major disruptions to the supply chain after these instances due to the relatively low number of workers deemed close or casual contacts, but we may not be so lucky in times to come.

‘We cannot have outbreaks like these standing down masses of wharfies, truckies, rail operators or any critical worker in between who serve essential roles for our community,’ Mike said.

Media: Josh Appleton – E:

Ports Australia is the peak industry body representing port authorities and corporations, both publicly and privately owned, at the national level.

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