Weekly News – Comment sought on draft National Guidelines for Ramps and Forcing Yards

DRAFT NATIONAL GUIDELINES FOR RAMPS AND FORCING YARDS

The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) invites public comment on the draft ‘Guide for Safe Design of Livestock Loading Ramps and Forcing Yards’.

The purpose of the voluntary guide is to promote safer workplaces for people in contact with livestock loading facilities and to improve animal welfare outcomes.

Legislation requires that workplace safety risks be controlled as far as is reasonably practicable. Australian Animal Welfare Standards require livestock handling facilities be constructed, maintained and operated in a way that minimises risks to the welfare of livestock.

The guide is a tool to assist in the assessment of existing facilities and aid in the design of proposed new facilities.   It summarises the potential hazards of livestock loading ramps and forcing yards and practical examples of ways to control associated risks for different types of facilities.

General principles are identified as well as a series of model ramp designs (ranging from low-cost basic designs for farms to more advanced commercial designs) that adhere to the guidelines.

The material has been developed in close consultation with key stakeholders in the livestock supply chain including producers, transporters, feedlots, saleyards, exporters, equipment manufacturers, welfare groups and safety authorities.  The ALRTA now invites all stakeholders to consider and comment on the draft guide.

The ALRTA is aiming to launch a final version of the guide at the joint National and State Conference to be held at the Light House Beach Resort, Bunbury WA, 3-4 July 2015.

Key Information:

If you would like more information please contact the ALRTA Executive Director, Mathew Munro, on 0421 082 489 or mathew@alrta.org.au.

ALRTA WELCOMES $100M BEEF ROADS COMMITMENT

The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minister that the Commonwealth Government will invest $100 million in improving roads that are critical to the beef industry.

The funding has been made available as part of a new Northern Australia Beef Roads Fund that will make targeted upgrades to key roads necessary for transporting cattle.   The announcement is in line with the recommendations contained in the final report to the Australian Parliament on the Inquiry into the Development of Northern Australia.

ALRTA National President Grant Robins said that today’s announcement is great news for everyone in the Australian beef supply chain and all road users across Northern Australia.

“Road transport is typically the first and last link of our agricultural supply chains, bringing vital supplies to our production centres and taking produce to our markets.

“Beef cattle have the highest imbedded transport cost of all Australian commodities and improving the road network on which this produce travels will deliver significant economic benefits for livestock transporters, beef producers and the regional communities of Northern Australia.”

Allocation of money from the fund will rely on the CSIRO’s state-of-the-art logistics modelling which for the first time looks at the whole cattle supply chain – every farm, road, stopover, port and processing facility in the country.

CSIRO has consulted with ALRTA members including North Queensland operator and immediate past National President Liz Schmidt in developing the Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool.

Some of the beef roads already identified for further development include Buntine Road, Barley Stock Route, Duncan Highway, Buchanan Highway, Outback Way and Tanami Road.

“The ALRTA and our State Associations will continue to work with the Commonwealth Government and CSIRO to identify other priority beef routes.  We will also encourage our northern State and Territory Governments to contribute to the fund to maximise development potential for the beef cattle industry in Northern Australia,” President Robins said.

NTC INDUSTRY ADVISORY GROUP MEETS

The NTC’s Industry Advisory Group met in Melbourne this week to hear updates on the progress of NTC’s current work program and have a say on the development of future business cases.

I was a concerned to hear that TISOC (the meeting of the heads of transport departments that precedes Ministerial meetings) met in March and had not agreed on proposed changes to the duties under chain of responsibility.  Apparently NSW has sought to expand the scope of duties and a compromise has since been reached.

Industry has been keen to install consistent general duties within the current chain of responsibility areas (fatigue, speed, mass/dimension/load restraint) but we have not supported the NSW proposal to include a new general duty that applies to the entire heavy vehicle national law – that is already present in workplace health and safety legislation! We will make further enquiries and representations as needed. The ALRTA National President will be present when Ministers formally consider the proposal on 22 May.

ALRTA has also been concerned about the progress of a National Registration Scheme.  We certainly DO want a national scheme because this will be vital to other processes such as cross-jurisdictional defect clearances and giving the NHVR a secure income stream along with direct access to information about the national fleet.   However, our message is being confused as opposition because of our refusal to accept an outcome that is not a one-stop-shop for registration transactions or does not allow free flow of information across jurisdictions – a national plate alone will not cut it.  Under no circumstances do we want to see a process that requires a payment to the NHVR followed by claiming rebates for any concessions that might apply.

There are some interesting new business cases currently being developed dealing with everything from understanding industry compliance costs; mapping freight movements; defining productivity and preparing for the introduction of autonomous vehicles – yes, you read that right!  Autonomous vehicles are very rapidly becoming a reality that we need to address.  For now the most feasible application would be in ‘platoons’ (a lead vehicle with several autonomous vehicles following behind on a multi-lane dual carriageway) but once this is achieved you never know where it will end.  If we don’t get on the front foot and develop a national position now the states will inevitably all go their own way.

The NTC is also considering new proposals for refinement later in the year.  A couple that really stood out to me were proposals for an operator licensing system and mandatory telematics for all long distance vehicles.  The ALRTA will keep very close watch on developments.

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