Driv­ers al­legedly failed fa­tigue test

Truck­ing boss faces 53 tri­als

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - SA­MAN­THA HEALY sa­man­tha. healy@ news. com. au

A NORTH Queens­land trans­port com­pany ac­cused of fail­ing to com­ply with fa­tigue man­age­ment re­quire­ments may have to fight the charges in “53 tri­als” across the state.

Charges were laid against Blen­ners Trans­port Pty Ltd, and its man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Les­lie John Blen­ner­has­sett af­ter a Depart­ment of Trans­port and Main Roads in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

A num­ber of the com­pany’s driv­ers were charged last year, and pro­ceed­ings have be­gun in sev­eral mag­is­trates court ju­ris­dic­tions in­clud­ing Townsville, Bowen, Char­ters Tow­ers and Tully.

The com­pany, and Mr Blen­ner­has­sett, have been charged with ex­tended li­a­bil­ity breaches as a re­sult of of­fences al­legedly com­mit­ted by em­ploy­ees.

It comes af­ter 742 sim­i­lar charges against the com­pany were dropped last year.

In a re­cent de­ci­sion pub­lished by Dalby mag­is­trate Kay Ryan, an ap­pli­ca­tion by the depart­ment to have all of the Dalby mat­ters trans­ferred to a sin­gle court was dis­missed.

While mag­is­trates are not bound by the de­ci­sions made by their col­leagues, Ms Ryan’s de­ci­sion in­cluded a ref­er­ence to a sim­i­lar re­fusal made by a Hol­land Park mag­is­trate.

Those Hol­land Park com­plaints have been with­drawn.

Ms Ryan said it ap­peared the rea­son for the ap­pli­ca­tion to trans­fer the charges to a sin­gle court was to show ev­i­dence of a “cul­ture of non­com­pli­ance” at the com­pany.

The depart­ment ar­gued the trans­fer of all mat­ters to one court would re­sult in one trial as op­posed to “53 iden­ti­cal tri­als across the state”.

Ms Ryan said the with­drawal of the Hol­land Park com­plaints was un­for­tu­nate as any de­ci­sion on pre- trial ap­pli­ca­tions made by that court would have been per­sua­sive and, if ap­pealed, bind­ing on those that fol­lowed.

“This would have re­sulted in the trun­cat­ing of the ‘ 53 iden­ti­cal tri­als across the state’ by clar­i­fy­ing the is­sues to be de­cided by the court,” she said.

The depart­ment is ex­pected to call wit­nesses in­clud­ing cur­rent and for­mer driv­ers, trans­port of­fi­cers, GPS and ve­hi­cle mon­i­tor­ing ex­perts.

Five driv­ers were charged with pro­vid­ing false or mis­lead­ing doc­u­ments for of­fences al­legedly com­mit­ted in Townsville. Mr Blen­ner­has­sett is charged as an “in­flu­enc­ing per­son” and could be li­able for his driv­ers fail­ing to com­ply with fa­tigue man­age­ment pro­ce­dures.

He de­clined to com­ment as the mat­ter is be­fore the courts.

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