Three months grace

Wary ag sec­tor gets re­prieve on new laws

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Rural Weekly - - By Alexan­dra Laskie

THE Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor has bowed to pres­sure to de­lay in­tro­duc­ing new truck safety laws to give farm­ers time to pre­pare for the changes.

The new laws, which come into ef­fect in Vic­to­ria, NSW, South Aus­tralia, Tas­ma­nia and Queens­land on Oc­to­ber 1 – three months later than planned – could see farm­ers fined $500,000 for safety breaches.

Farm­ers could be li­able if a truck driver is sleepy or ex­ceeds the speed limit on the way to or from a prop­erty, or if a truck is not road­wor­thy or over­loaded.

The laws have been pushed back three months “to pro­vide the ad­di­tional time that some sec­tors were ask­ing for to pre­pare for the changes, in­clud­ing the agri­cul­tural sec­tor,” NHVR spokesman An­drew Berk­man said.

He said come Oc­to­ber, “all par­ties in the (sup­ply) chain, in­clud­ing pri­mary pro­duc­ers, must proac­tively re­duce risks re­lated to the safety of heavy ve­hi­cle trans­port tasks”.

This in­cludes mak­ing sure trans­porters have all the nec­es­sary per­mits for the job.

Na­tional Farm­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Tony Ma­har said the group was pleased its re­quests for more time were heard, but raised con­cerns around the le­gal im­pli­ca­tions for farm­ers.

“We’ve been con­cerned about what the new Chain of Re­spon­si­bil­ity laws legally mean for farm­ers, and whether they im­pose a huge ad­min­is­tra­tive bur­den, re­quir­ing farm­ers to en­gage in ex­ces­sive record keep­ing and doc­u­men­ta­tion,” Mr Ma­har said.

Af­ter rev­e­la­tions in Fe­bru­ary that farm­ers feared “mas­sive im­pli­ca­tions” from the changes, the NHVR called an ur­gent con­fer­ence with state and peak farm groups to ad­dress their con­cerns.

Most of the Chain of Re­spon­si­bil­ity du­ties for farm­ers ap­peared to be rea­son­able, Mr Ma­har said, such as not con­tribut­ing to un­safe prac­tices by de­mand­ing un­re­al­is­tic time frames to de­liver goods. But he said these sorts of “re­spon­si­bil­i­ties” were sub­jec­tive and open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion. Un­der the changes, com­pa­nies breach­ing safety duty may be fined up to $500,000 and in­di­vid­u­als $50,000.


DE­LAYED START: The in­tro­duc­tion of new truck safety laws has been de­ferred un­til Oc­to­ber.

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