6 August 2020 | QRC COVID-19 Working Group meeting

QRC COVID-19 Working Group spoke about the following:

  • As of 1am Saturday 8 August the Qld border will be closed to ACT and NSW following their declarations as hot spots.
    • There are no exemptions currently available – discussions are continuing with QH and DNRME.
    • The border closure has widespread community support; the sector must exercise caution in seeking an exemption on the basis that “we’re special”.
  • QRC advises that if staff are currently in a non-hot spot in NSW or ACT (not in Greater Sydney), the best way to proceed is to bring those staff in prior to the 1am Saturday border closure.
  • Rio advised, in relation to the report of a Rio graduate falsifying travel information after travelling from a hotspot:
    • Rio does not support the graduate’s actions.
    • The graduate is a resident of Weipa, not a FIFO worker who had travelled to a hotspot whilst on annual leave.
    • Graduate is in isolation, and has a NEGATIVE response to swab test.
    • Graduate will be subject to Rio HR process and police action.
    • Rio emphasised that the action of this individual is considered unacceptable.
  • Question in relation to border closure from Susan (BHP): will there be exemptions for certain positions, e.g. statutory positions, without which a mine cannot operate?
    • Answer: unclear as yet but a broad exemption process is unlikely. QRC requests that companies urgently advise QRC via info@qrc.org.au regarding which positions are at risk due to border closure.
  • QRC acknowledges the potential adversity faced by staff who have to relocate away from their families for work for any length of time.
  • Question from Lewis (Adani): if broad exemptions are not granted, is there a benefit of trying to source interstate specialist/critical workers from outside current hot spot areas? Answer: This is one of the options QRC has put forward for consideration.
  • QRC provides an update to a hypothetical question recently asked of DNRME, of a worker returning home after undergoing a test.
    • Answer: if a worker is required to be isolated and tested, a company must contact the COVID healthline. That worker may be permitted to return home in a private vehicle IF Qld Health approves that process. Conclusion: if a worker needs to be tested, isolate them and contact Qld Health. (see detail on QRC COVID website)
    • Clarification from Rachel from South 32: this applies while the worker’s test results are forthcoming, or (for example) if they have had a recent close contact and are therefore required to isolate.
    • Example from QRC’s protocols: if a staff member is required to test, they are asked to isolate until results are returned and not to attend the office for 2 weeks.
  • Update on Brisbane Airport Corporation issue: flight volumes are well down. Price of testing facility has been negotiated at $3,000 per month.
    • QRC will hold the license and pay the fee, and will charge members a fee on a pro rata basis
  • Simon Zanatta from Minister Lynham’s office: advises that the Minister’s office recognises the importance of the resources sector.
  • Shaun Ferris, DNRME advised that discussions are being held with the Chief Health Officer regarding possible exemptions for specialist workers (e.g. where workers are only available interstate to maintain a piece of equipment or machinery in Qld to prevent possible injury).
  • If an exemption process materialises, the exemptions will be significantly more restricted than the previous exemption process.
    • If there is an exemption process, the Department will work with the sector to develop exemption guidelines if necessary.
    • The new direction #11 is being developed and will come into effect at 1am on Saturday 8 August.
  • QRC repeats request to be notified of essential workers required that may not be able to enter the state after the border closure.
  • Question: Kelly Vea Vea (Isaac Deputy Mayor) if there was an exemption in place, how will that be communicated to the communities? Reported heightened anxiety from community.
    • Answer: QRC advises, if there is an exemption process for specialist workers, this will be discussed with all regional councils.