The Transport Workers’ Union has warned that “Phase One” community transmission suppression will fail in its goal to avoid “last resort” lockdowns without prioritising vaccination access for domestic aviation workers and introducing rapid pre-flight testing.
Today, Scott Morrison expressed that transitioning to “Phase Two” of the four-part plan to normality is still not expected to occur until next year, leaving six months or more of possible snap lockdowns and border closures which harm communities and the economy.
Covid transmission on Virgin flights has so far occurred between two flight attendants and two passengers. Over a hundred aviation workers are in emergency isolation. A separate passenger flew into Townsville while unknowingly infectious, which put hundreds of thousands of people into lockdown this week.
Over recent days, several airports have been identified as exposure sites including in Alice Springs, which also entered lockdown as a result.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said National Cabinet has missed a crucial opportunity to fix gaps in aviation biosecurity and instead focused on hope for the distant future while ignoring the crisis unfolding today.
“The Prime Minister is exploiting Australians’ longing for a full return to normality – which will not occur for potentially years to come – to distract from the failures of his government during ‘Phase One’.
“Scott Morrison’s attempt to shift the narrative does not mean snap lockdowns and border closures will cease. Suppressing the spread of community transmission across borders depends on the Federal Government providing priority vaccine access to domestic aviation workers and introducing rapid pre-flight testing. For months, aviation workers have called for these safety measures, including in letters sent to Scott Morrison this week.
“Aviation is a critical industry for our vast island nation, and can be credited for keeping families, businesses and regional communities connected. It is also an industry that, as we’re seeing unfold, can quickly and easily transmit the deadly virus on planes and transport it to communities across state lines.
“Workers doing the important jobs of cleaning, loading and servicing aircraft should not be forced to do so at a risk to their safety and that of their families.
“Rather than distant ideals, we need urgent national leadership and a plan for aviation that will ensure the safety of workers and passengers and strengthen the viability of businesses in this critical industry for Australia,” said Kaine.