Weekly News – Effluent spills, permit processing, saleyard welfare standards

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ENFORCING THE CHAIN OF RESPONSIBILITY: EFFLUENT SPILLS

This week the ALRTA formally wrote to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator seeking a nationally consistent approach to the application of chain of responsibility for effluent spills.

We have clearly laid out the legal basis for extended liability to be applied under the Heavy Vehicle National Law and demonstrated that the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock clearly identifies that the consignor is responsible for the application of appropriate pre-transit feed / water curfews and communicating these to other parties in the chain.

The use of effluent tanks on livestock trailers cannot solve what is fundamentally a chain of responsibility problem.  Tanks do not have the capacity to hold the effluent generated by animals that have not been prepared correctly and managed dumping points would need to be placed at 50km intervals along all rural roads in Australia for effluent tanks to be an effective solution.

Recognising that there are prevailing market incentives which discourage consignors from correctly applying curfews, we have asked for a 3 month period in which warnings are first issued to chain parties.  After this time an appropriate basis for infringing or prosecuting chain parties under extended liability would be:

  • For trucks without operable effluent tanks: substantial and severe breaches.
  • For trucks with operable effluent tanks: all breaches.

The ALRTA is liaising with representatives of chain parties to help make them aware of their responsibilities.  We do not want to see prosecutions – we want to see a change in practice.  Unfortunately, the reality is that some parties simply will not take notice until the fines hitting our drivers are hitting them too.

Chain of responsibility laws were expressly designed to ensure that all parties that influence on road outcomes take their fair share of responsibility. This is a relatively clear-cut case that will test the ability of the law and the national regulator to meet that objective.

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