Cattle Council questions fatigue laws

Cattle Council of Australia says fatigue laws are becoming an issue for beef cattle farmers in remote areas

By Michael House

The Cattle Council of Australia says national driver fatigue laws are becoming an issue for beef cattle farmers in remote areas.

Council President Greg Brown says the long distance between depots and the nature of driver’s loads make it hard for drivers to operate.

"It’s very difficult to transport cattle from remote locations in Australia, such as the Northern Territory and Queensland to sale yards or other locations within the legislation on heavy vehicle driver fatigue," Brown says.

Under Basic Fatigue Management (BFM), drivers must stop every five hours and 30 minutes for a rest, while Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) allows companies to develop their own guidelines.

However, those who do not become accredited in either module must comply with a proscribed 12-hour day which requires drivers to rest every five hours.

Brown says this does not recognise the constraints outback operators must contend with, such as a lack of rest areas and the unpredictability of livestock.

"The concern is that there is not enough flexibility built into them to be practical for those livestock transporters operating in remote areas," he says.

"A livestock carrier transporting stock from Cape York to Mareeba for example, would find the process of transporting cattle highly impractical under the legislation, partly due to the limited options for unloading cattle at rest stops."

Fatigue management laws were introduced in September last year in an effort to reduce driver fatigue.

Under the provisions, all parties involved in the freight task are responsible for managing fatigue and ensuring schedules do not force drivers to work excessive hours.

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