Uncertainty reigns over fatigue laws in NSW

Industry claims NSW Government is keeping it in the dark on new fatigue management laws

By Brad Gardner

New South Wales’ announcement of a transition phase to looming fatigue laws has not allayed industry concerns, with claims operators are being kept in the dark on the new regulations.

Jim Savage, the managing director of livestock transport company Stockmaster, says the Iemma Government’s inability to pass new fatigue management legislation is leaving many in the industry uncertain of what to expect from the new laws.

He says operators do not know what systems they will need to develop because they cannot be sure whether the NSW fatigue management model will pass unchanged through the parliament.

"I want to see if anything is added to the legislation and we certainly want to know what direction things are headed," Savage says.

"They [the Government] have been pretty slack."

Savage claims the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), which is running the sessions, is not interested in addressing industry concerns, instead telling operators and drivers they will note their questions and endeavour to reply eventually.

The livestock operator has attended information sessions currently being held across the State and, like other attendees, has left frustrated because the meetings are "a complete waste of time".

Savage says drivers are leaving sessions fed up because they cannot get basic answers from bureaucrats, instead being told to look at the National Transport Commission's (NTC) website.

"It annoys me that the people out there presenting are not equipped with enough information. They were not interested in answering drivers’ basic questions," Savage says.

Kay Rogers, who runs a grazing company in NSW, has contacted the RTA requesting a new work diary so her drivers have time to adapt to the new system.

However, she says the government department told her the National Transport Commission (NTC) was responsible for the work diaries. Upon calling the NTC, Rogers says she was directed back to the RTA.

But Program Manager of Heavy Vehicle Regulation Alice Ma says the RTA is responsible for the new work diaries.

However, she says companies or drivers with current logbooks will not be able to apply for new ones until fatigue regulations take effect on September 29.

But drivers who do not have a logbook can purchase a new work diary early September, Ma says.

This, Ma says, is because drivers with current logbooks have 90 days to move to the new work diaries so they do not need them before September 29.

Ma also maintains the information sessions have been successful, saying there has been a high attendance rate and attendees have left sessions with a greater understanding of the new laws.

Minister for Road Eric Roozendaal says NSW will follow Queensland and South Australia’s lead by implementing a transition phase to fatigue management, saying the measure is designed to give the industry time to adapt.

While supporting the six-month phase-in period, Savage says the Government’s decision has more to do with the fact it is "running so far behind" in getting the laws into place.

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