Fatigue management on chopping block


NSW Opposition reissues threat to abolish fatigue management unless demerit points for work diary offences are scrapped

Fatigue management on chopping block
Fatigue management on chopping block
By Brad Gardner

Fatigue management regulations in NSW may be axed, with the Coalition reissuing its threat to abolish them unless demerit points are removed from work diary offences.

Nationals leader and opposition spokesman on roads Andrew Stoner has demanded the Government amend the regulations so drivers guilty of work diary breaches only receive fines.

Unless Minister for Roads Michael Daley takes action, Stoner plans on reviving a proposed disallowance motion against fatigue management from last year.

NSW did not legislate fatigue management, which means the Legislative Council can scrap it by way of a majority vote.

"The disallowance motion is still an option for the Liberal/Nationals Coalition and, if needed, we can still exercise it," Stoner says.

According to Stoner, many drivers are struggling to comply with work diary provisions and should not lose their licence for minor or unintentional infringements.

"For many truck drivers their profession is their livelihood and they shouldn't have their licences taken away for petty misdemeanours," he says.

But Daley has accused the Opposition of politicising the issue and warns there will be consequences should Stoner follow through on his threat.

"The Nationals are playing politics with the safety of our truckies with their threats to move a disallowance motion in the NSW upper house against the nationally agreed fatigue laws and leave nothing in their place," he says.

"Fatigue is one of the biggest causes of crashes for heavy vehicle drivers."

Although Daley is yet to respond to questions on whether he supports demerit points for work diary offences, he says he is working with the industry to address its concerns on fatigue management.

Daley previously made changes to the regulations by exempting truck drivers who work less than 100 kilometres from their base from carrying a work diary. Farmers were given a 160 kilometre exemption.

Although a spokesman for the RTA says demerit points for work diary offences will not be lifted, Jim Savage from Stockmaster and the Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association (LBCA) plans on lobbying Daley to intervene.

Former opposition spokesman on roads Duncan Gay last year proposed the disallowance motion in response to industry criticism of the regulations. The Government reacted by holding a roundtable towards the end of last year.

Doubts over the future of fatigue management regulations follow claims the RTA has misled operators and drivers.

Although it has dismissed the allegations, there are claims the department told the industry that courts were responsible for issuing demerit points.

The RTA has been responsible for imposing penalties for heavy vehicle offences since 2005.

The issue has caused confusion in the industry, with those fined for work diary offences leaving court thinking no other penalties will apply only to receive letters from the RTA issuing demerit points.

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