Changes to truck laws hit farmers
FARMERS could be fined up to half a million dollars if an unroadworthy truck enters their property under “draconian and unfair” changes to safety laws.
Under the new laws, farmers could be liable if a truck driver is sleepy, or exceeds the speed limit on its way to or leaving a property.
Farm lobby groups have reported the Heavy Vehicle National Law changes, to be introduced in Queensland on July 1, will mean any farmer receiving or loading a vehicle weighing 4.5 tonnes – the equivalent of a small truck – could be found liable for safety breaches.
But farm groups said the sector is ill-prepared for responsibility changes and have called for a simplified explanation of how farmers will be affected.
The National Farmers’ Federation said the changes would have “massive implications”.
NFF economics and farm business committee chairman Wayne Dunford said “there wouldn’t be a farmer not implicated” by the new rules.
“It’s opening up a Pandora’s box, and the sad thing is not many farmers know about it,” Mr Dunford said.
He said under the changes, “before you load a truck, you’ve got to know it’s roadworthy – now that’s not a farmer’s job... farmers aren’t compliance officers”.
“If a truck comes up the driveway – just like a car – you expect it’s registered and roadworthy. Farmers have no control over that.”
A spokesman for Transport Minister Barnaby Joyce said “the amended laws maintain existing chain of responsibility safety requirements, but are better aligned with Workplace Health and Safety laws, which require all businesses to take a proactive approach to heavy vehicle safety.”