NSW accused of fatigue bias

General freight carriers have been hit with onerous reporting requirements under fatigue management, but NSW Government exempts primary producers

NSW accused of fatigue bias
NSW accused of fatigue bias
By Brad Gardner

Local NSW trucking operators have been hit with a significant reporting burden under the State’s fatigue laws, but primary producers operating heavy vehicles have been let off.

The Rees Government has released its regulations governing fatigue management, which puts the onus on general freight carriers to meet a number of measures in return for being exempted from filling out a logbook within 100km of their depot.

Drivers will need to list personal and vehicle details, work and rest times, vehicle destination and pay records even if they travel as few as 50 metres from their base.

Furthermore, these records will need to be kept for at least three years, enable enforcement officers to easily access them and must be capable of being used as evidence if necessary.

Primary producers, however, have been exempted, leading the Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association (LBCA) to question if the Government has bowed to pressure from the farming industry.

LBCA Executive Director Andrew Higginson has blasted the decision, saying it is "absurd" because it marginalises a section of the industry and has the potential to pit operators against each other.

"There are fundamental issues as to how they approached the exemption issue," Higginson says.

"There is no equality."

Higginson has contacted Minister for Roads Michael Daley’s office to ask why one sector should be treated differently from the other. However, he is yet to receive a reply.

Higginson says the trucking industry was not consulted before the regulations took effect, and has accused the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) of attempting to enforce arduous regulations.

"I think the RTA has tried to make it as hard as possible," he says.

Higginson also wants an independent review into fatigue management laws to determine why the lead-up to the new regime was plagued with uncertainty, a lack of planning and consultation.

He also wants a guarantee associations will be involved in peer review sessions and discussions about any future reforms before they are foisted on the industry.

Similar to the Victorian Transport Association (VTA), the LBCA wants assurance major reforms will include a year-long transition period, and any new reforms are gazetted at least eight weeks before they are introduced.

"We have got to have considered thought on this," Higginson says.

As previously announced by Daley, primary producers have also been granted a more lenient exemption as they will not have to keep work diaries as long as they operate within 160km of their base.

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