Transport Legislation Moves Responsibility

AUSTRALIA - A transport legislative amendment which proposes a significant shift in the onus of responsibility away from trucking companies and truck drivers and on to the rural sector will be considered in State Parliament next week.
calendar icon 28 April 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

AgForce Cattle president Greg Brown said AgForce has raised concerns about the Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2008 with the relevant Ministers, including Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Gary Fenlon and Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin.

“If this Bill’s proposed new chain of responsibility was to pass in its current form, it could see the consigners of grain or livestock having new responsibilities to ensure the truck driver complies with transport regulations,” Mr Brown said.

“This also reverses the onus of proof. It appears that if consigners cannot prove they have ensured that transport regulations will not be breached during a journey, they may be considered liable if the truck driver exceeds the allowable work hours.

“AgForce strongly opposes the extension of the chain of responsibility for producers. We do not believe it is practical for rural producers to have to take responsibility for the actions of drivers. We do not believe the principles the National Transport Commission has developed are appropriate. A reversal of onus of proof to include consigner and consignees is not equitable or practical in the context of long haul rural transport, especially livestock.”

Most rural transport contracts are verbal and formal written contracts or management plans are rarely used. It is clear that if the current plan goes through, producers and carriers will have to develop more formalised legal arrangements.

Mr Brown said cattle producers have skills and expertise to understand and ensure they comply with worldleading animal welfare requirements.

“AgForce believes the trucking companies and individual drivers are the ones with the expertise to management transport regulations,” he said.

After a meeting last week with AgForce Cattle representatives, Minister Mulherin committed to making this legislation more workable for producers and AgForce has also received assurances from Transport Parliamentary Secretary Gary Fenlon that Queensland Transport will consult on the regulations. Producers had not previously been consulted on the new legislation, which is worrying given the industry’s reliance on heavy transport.

“Despite the assurance form government that the new legislation will be workable, we maintain that the new law should allow for exemptions for consignors, consignees and loading managers of rural produce,” Mr Brown said.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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