Fined hay run hero hits back

Stung by a $10k penalty, he’s call­ing for law change

Big Rigs - - NEWS - James Gra­ham James.Gra­ham@bi­grigs.com.au

AIRLIE Beach-based driver Peter Lewis isn’t giv­ing up without a fight, af­ter cop­ping the most de­bated fine in Queens­land this month.

Although re­signed to the $10,000 hit from the Rock­hamp­ton Mag­is­trates Court for green-light­ing an il­le­gal load of hay bound for a des­per­ate drought-stricken farmer, Peter is hop­ing some good will re­sult from the fall­out.

Al­ready Queens­land Trans­port has is­sued a state­ment say­ing it is cur­rently work­ing to­wards mir­ror­ing NSW’s re­cently in­tro­duced 2.83m width al­lowances for the move­ment of fod­der to drought de­clared ar­eas.

Mean­while, ev­ery­one from the Na­tional Road Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion to the Queens­land Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion is ral­ly­ing in sup­port of Peter’s plight.

“Here we have a truck cart­ing hay bound for drought-stricken farm­ers, in­cur­ring a fine for be­ing over width,” QTA CEO Gary Ma­hon said.

“Now, hang on to your hats, be­cause this was a big load. At its widest point it was 16.5cm over width.

“That is about three inches a side, and mea­sured near the top of the load. The cur­tains were al­legedly ‘bulging’. In NSW/VIC/SA, this load is ‘le­gal’ out to 2.7m for both wool and hay and on Au­gust 13 was in­creased to 2.83m in width and 4.6m in height. Ev­i­dently, when you cross an imag­i­nary line at the Queens­land bor­der, this be­comes the safety fine of the year at $10,000.

“Of all the pri­or­i­ties that could have been pur­sued for Chain of Re­spon­si­bil­ity, this is the case that is the stand­out? Although clearly a defin­ing pri­or­ity, this in­fringe­ment will be in the run­ning for Fine of the year.”

Gary said it was a clas­sic ex­am­ple of the in­con­sis­tent level of scru­tiny the in­dus­try was sub­ject to un­der the cur­rent Heavy Ve­hi­cle Na­tional Law and it was crit­i­cal that a re­view was done sooner rather than later on this “con­vo­luted piece of leg­is­la­tion”.

NatRoad also weighed in by consulting with the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor about bring­ing in stan­dard di­men­sions for the cart­ing of hay.

❝ Of all the pri­or­i­ties that could have been pur­sued for Chain of Re­spon­si­bil­ity, this is the case that is the stand­out?

— Gary Ma­hon, QTA CEO

“We hope that the au­thor­i­ties will con­tinue to recog­nise the ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances of farm­ers af­fected by drought, which is ex­treme in its sever­ity,” NatRoad CEO War­ren Clark said.

“NatRoad is very ap­pre­cia­tive of the con­ces­sions that have been ap­plied by the NSW Govern­ment, in­clud­ing the lat­est no­tice which al­lows el­i­gi­ble ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing baled or rolled hay to op­er­ate as wide as 2.83m and as high as 4.6m in cer­tain cir­cum­stances.

“We would like to see a sim­i­lar ex­emp­tion no­tice ap­plied na­tion­wide as hay from all over the coun­try con­tin­ues to be de­liv­ered to NSW. That has been the crux of our dis­cus­sions with NHVR.

“NatRoad will ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in the re­view of the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Law and we will be press­ing for uni­for­mity in reg­u­la­tions which should be the same across the coun­try. What mat­ters most is get­ting in place sen­si­ble laws.”

De­spite the state dis­par­i­ties, Peter knows he has to cop this one on the chin. Although he wasn’t be­hind the wheel on the fate­ful run in June last year in his com­pany’s B-dou­ble, he signed off on the load, even af­ter the driver ad­vised he thought it could be too wide.

“Queens­land Trans­port be­lieve I’ve snubbed my nose at the law un­der the CoR, but that’s not the case,” said the 61-year-old who has never lost a bale, or been fined for hay run­ning be­fore now.

“I as­sessed that it was safe enough to let on the road. I got up in cab and could see down the side of it, no wor­ries in the mir­rors. It was just be­cause it was inside cur­tains that it looked worse than it did.”

NSW comes to aid of hay run­ners

NSW Roads and Mar­itime Ser­vices has just made it even eas­ier for state truck­ies to come to the aid of its des­per­ate cock­ies.

The newly in­tro­duced NSW Class 3 Drought As­sis­tance Di­men­sion Ex­emp­tion No­tice 2018 al­lows el­i­gi­ble ve­hi­cles which com­ply with the con­di­tions of the no­tice to op­er­ate without the need to ap­ply for a per­mit.

Susie Mackay, Roads and Mar­itime Ser­vices Di­rec­tor Freight, said to give the op­er­a­tors peace of mind they were op­er­at­ing within the con­di­tions of the no­tice, a ded­i­cated web­page at www.rms.nsw.gov.au/

Peter said you’d strug­gle to find any­one car­ry­ing a le­gal load of hay in the state un­der the cur­rent laws.

“It’s a prac­ti­cal thing with wool and hay bales; you can’t make them ex­actly the right shape all the time, and drought-freight and a helpline had also been es­tab­lished.

“In­for­ma­tion for op­er­a­tors wish­ing to pro­vide drought relief trans­port can be found on the ded­i­cated Roads and Mar­itime web­page.

“We strongly en­cour­age op­er­a­tors to call the toll free helpline on 1800 952 292 to speak to an ad­vi­sor be­fore they travel,” Ms Mackay said.

“It is vi­tal we get th­ese drought re­liev­ing sup­plies through to farm­ers, but it is also equally vi­tal we en­sure the safety of trans­port op­er­a­tors and all road users as well.”

that’s why we need to have the vari­ance, just to be able to go over that lit­tle bit on each side.”

■ Peter’s daugh­ter has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay the fine. Search for PK’s Truck­Wise Hay Run Fine.

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

UN­DE­TERRED: Peter Lewis was back on the road help­ing farm­ers just days af­ter the $10,000 penalty.

Des­per­ate farm­ers are al­ways happy to see Peter turn up.

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