Drivers allegedly failed fatigue test
Trucking boss faces 53 trials
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Those Holland Park complaints have been withdrawn.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.