Livestock transporters hit hard by fatigue laws

By: Graham Gardiner

Victorian livestock transporters "will be hit hard" by fatigue management laws after the Brumby Government refused to implement transition phases

Victorian livestock transporters "will be hit hard" by fatigue management laws after the Brumby Government refused to implement transition phases and emergency provisions in line with other states.

Despite constant lobbying from the Livestock Transporters Association of Victoria (LTVA) to have a six-month transition phase introduced similar to Queensland, South Australia and NSW, Minister for Roads and Ports Tim Pallas has maintained there will be no transition.

He has also ruled out following South Australia’s lead by giving livestock transporters an extra two hours under Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) to be used in emergencies only, such as animal welfare issues or truck breakdowns.

LTVA President John Beer says the association met Minister for Roads and Ports Tim Pallas’ adviser, but "did no good" in arguing for assistance.

As such, Beer says many in the industry will struggle to comply with the reforms because of their lack of flexibility.

"It will probably take some experienced blokes out," Beer says.

"We know we will be hit hard by fatigue management."

Beer, who operates a family-owned business, aims to become accredited in BFM because he will lose two hours if he operates under standard hours.

He says the livestock industry in general still faces many hurdles as saleyards have been slow to overhaul current practices which force drivers to queue for hours when loading or unloading stock.

The Australian Livestock Transporters Association (ALTA) has also raised concerns about the 24 hour rest rule under the new regulations.

ALTA Executive Director Luke Fraser says many operators currently schedule trips around giving drivers a block of days off every fortnight. However, the new system demands a continuous 24-hour break every week.

Fraser wants the states to give operators the time to move to the new rest stipulations. However, there has been no response from governments as to whether they will adopt the proposal.

Despite Victoria’s refusal to budge, NSW operators have at least gained a reprieve from work diary requirements.

In a move designed to reduce the administrative burden and bring NSW in line with eastern states, NSW will keep a radius provision which was due to be scrapped when fatigue laws were introduced.

Minister for Roads Michael Daley says industry consultation has convinced him of the need to only require those operating a certain distance from their depot to fill out work diaries.

"I’ve listened to the concerns of people in the industry over these new regulations and will introduce a number of exemptions," Daley says.

Primary producers will be given a 160km exemption, while truck, bus and coach drivers will operate under 100km exemptions.

Daley says the exemptions will run for a year to give him time to consult with the industry about whether to extend or end the exemptions.

Fatigue management laws, which aim to hold the supply chain accountable for managing driver fatigue, were introduced today.

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