Click here to download the latest ALRTA Weekly News, including an detailed wrap up of recent ALRTA meetings with industry and government in Canberra to talk about loading ramps, effluent and the review of the Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS). Also included this week: Road Funding Bill passes the Senate, ATO Fuel Tax Credit Webinars, Rules of the Association Renewal and a reminder about Truck Week.
Read on for an overview of discussions relating to Effluent during the recent meetings in Canberra.
PRESSING OUR ISSUES IN CANBERRA
While speaking with NFF and CCA it was opportune to discuss the effluent enforcement blitz currently underway in NSW. LBCA has been collecting breach notices and it is clear that both professional drivers and primary producers have been subject to enforcement action.
Effluent containment is a shared responsibility. While operators can take steps such as washing out between loads and fitting effluent tanks, correct preparation of livestock prior to travel is by far the best approach to reducing effluent occurrence. We need a cooperative approach to solving this problem.
Enforcement officers have been using the load restraint provisions of the Heavy Vehicle National Law as the basis for issuing breach notices and it is important for primary producers to be aware that these laws also provide for liability to be extended to loaders and consignors. The ‘Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock’ clearly identifies consignors as being responsible for livestock preparation and there are several guides available on how to do this correctly.
All of this means that enforcement officers would be quite within their rights to issue a breach notice to the primary producer when there is an effluent spill in transit. If a producer decided to fight such a charge in court, they would need to demonstrate that reasonable steps were taken to prevent the breach from occurring which is likely to involve the production of records showing that curfews had been applied in accordance with available guidance material.
The legal tools are in place to enforce this as a chain of responsibility issue. However, enforcement officers are not using the extended liability provisions and farming representatives have confirmed that there are strong incentives for producers to send animals to market straight from the paddock without undergoing proper curfew – sellers want animals to look fresh at saleyards and buyers calculate the price on the basis of ‘weight minus 5%’.
As pointed out by our delegation, we cannot manage the problem alone. Effluent tanks simply do not have the capacity to capture 5% of the load weight expected to be lost and there is no network of disposal sites to dump captured material in any case.
Agreement was reached that this issue needs to be tackled cooperatively but there is no simple solution. We will continue to work with farming representatives to educate producers about current legal requirements but ultimately we need to reduce market incentives and push for the chain of responsibility to be enforced as intended.
Download the Weekly News for a more detailed overview of all the issues covered during the recent meetings in Canberra.