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COR breakthrough: Customer fined, operator banned

Customer fined for accepting overloaded trucks while Victorian transporter banned from work in landmark cases

A transport customer has been fined for accepting overloaded trucks while a carrier has been banned from the road in two landmark trucking cases in New South Wales.

Bartter Enterprises, the parent company of chicken provider Steggles, has been found guilty of a raft of overloading breaches – the first successful prosecution of a freight receiver under chain of responsibility laws.

In a separate case, defunct Victorian transport operator Bullin has been banned from all NSW roads for not paying dozens of on-road fines. It is the first Prohibition Order to be issued by a NSW court under road transport law.

Roads Minister Michael Daley is crowing about the prosecutions, which have also been welcomed by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), saying they send a strong message to the transport sector.

Steggles will pay $54,000 in fines and court costs after it was found to have negligently accepted “substantially and severely overloaded” trucks on 31 separate occasions.

Victorian carrier Bullin was liquidated in October 2007, but the company racked up numerous unpaid fines for breaches on NSW roads while operating.

Company director John Bogdan was charged with 97 offences as a “systematic or persistent offender” in NSW.

He has been ordered to pay more than $160,000 in fines and costs, while the court has banned him from engaging in any business that involves moving a heavy vehicle to, through or from a NSW road.

Daley says it is the first time a NSW court has issued a prohibition order, which he says is good news for compliant operators.

“This is great news for operators in the trucking industry who do the right thing, and want a professional industry that competes on a level playing field,” he says.

“These judgements should make every trucking company and freight forwarder that sends or orders goods in Australia sit up and take notice.”

TWU State Secretary Wayne Forno says companies have been getting away with unsafe practices.

“For too long the law has come down hard on the driver if something is not right,” he says.

“This Government has put in place laws that hold whoever owns the truck or the load accountable.

“We look forward to more investigations in the future.”

Under national chain of responsibility laws introduced in NSW in 2005 and expanded in 2008, every party involved in sending or receiving freight by road transport is responsible for breaches and unsafe activity.

Daley says since the laws were introduced the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) has prosecuted more than 220 breaches, including those sending and receiving freight as well as drivers and company directors.

‘Severe’ overloading offences dropped from 3 percent of cases during the 2005 grain harvest to none during the 2008 harvest, Daley claims, while ‘substantial’ breaches drooped from over 17 percent to less than 1 percent during the same period.

“This crackdown on dangerous illegal activities within the trucking industry is making every NSW motorist safer on our roads,” he says.

“Tough legislation and successful prosecutions have also deterred others from overloading vehicles.

“NSW has the most comprehensive heavy vehicle inspection regime in Australia. It’s a regime that’s clearly saving lives and clearly stamping out the incidence of overloading.”

Daley says overloading increases rutting and potholing on the road network and affects truck braking, steering and stability.

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