Truckers told to get their facts straight on chain of resposibility

By: Troy Bilsborough

Peak horticulture body Growcom says the transport industry needs to stop "putting words in its mouth" regarding consultations with the

Peak horticulture body Growcom says the transport industry needs to stop "putting words in its mouth" regarding consultations with the Queensland Government over proposed chain of responsibility laws.

The comment comes after ongoing comments from the trucking sector over the past fortnight criticising growers over alleged attempts at gaining exemptions from the legislation.

Queensland Trucking Association Executive Director Pater Gaske says it is "most disappointing that some (QTA) customer groups e.g. certain divisions of Agforce and Growcom, believe that they should be exempted from the chain of responsibility provisions which attach to the driving hours/fatigue management laws".

"QTA Ltd can reassure members that there is no likelihood of the Queensland Minister exempting any element of our customer base from chain of responsibility provisions," said Gaske.

He then went further to say that in some cases the industry representatives "have sought to advance their views through misguided support of those calling for disruption to the freight task".

This is on top of promises by Queensland Transport Workers Union boss Hughie Williams that the TWU will lobby the State Government to "make sure farmers are accountable for their produce getting to market", as "farmers/producers force their drivers to do illegal hours to make sure their produce arrives fresh".

"We can not have section 57AB [of the Chain of Responsibility Act] amended, otherwise the State’s heavy vehicle road toll will climb," he said after hearing of the Growcom meeting.

Growcom Chief Executive Officer Jan Davis says the trucking industry only needs to pick up the phone to have their facts corrected.

"Clearly people are putting words into our mouths that are not accurate," she says.

"We haven’t asked for an exemption and we haven’t asked for any change in the legislation and regulation.

"We haven’t asked for anything but clear interpretation of what the responsibilities are for growers and making sure they are not unduly held accountable for something they cannot control."

Growcom says it met with the Department of Transport earlier this month to have the interpretation of proposed chain of responsibility legislation amended to recognise the transport differences between growers and other agricultural sectors.

It argued growers have less influence on the working conditions and fatigue of drivers than livestock farmers as they are not subject to the same strict animal welfare and saleyard time requirements.
"If they’re going to talk about what they think we said, the least they can do is ring me up and talk to me," says Davis.

"Because then I can tell them exactly what I am saying now; we are not looking for an exemption – rather we need to make sure the accountability matches the responsibility."

The grower representative is confident the interpretation will be favourably amended after the Government was receptive to the request on the condition its members use a reputable transport contractor.

A final decision on the make up of the laws is expected by September.

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