Wool industry not under threat despite MP claims

RTA hits back over claims it is trying to "bring the entire wool industry to its knees"

By Brad Gardner | October 28, 2010

An Independent MP has been left red-faced after falsely accusing the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority of attempting to cripple the wool industry.

Dubbo MP Dawn Fardell used parliamentary proceedings to attack the RTA, claiming it was amending the wool bale load limit from 2.7 metres to 2.5 metres and introducing the change on November 1 without consultation.

She claimed the plan would "bring the entire wool industry to its knees" because of the consequences it would have on farmers, exporters and transporters.

However, the 2.5 metre restriction has been in place since 2004, prompting the RTA to defend itself against the criticism, which included Fardell labelling it "overzealous".

A spokesman for the RTA says the restriction was introduced as part of a national regulation on load restraint for wool bales.

"It’s the same regulation across Australia," he says.

The NSW restriction is governed under the Road Transport (Mass Loading and Access) Regulation.

The spokesman also dismissed claims made by Fardell that RTA inspectors were threatening to ground vehicles if they exceeded 2.5 metres.

"If you’re a millimetre over they’re not going to do you," the spokesman says.

"They’re not the horrible people they’re made out to be."

He says fines for overloading are handed out to repeat offenders constantly flouting the regulation, such as those who cart wool bales more than one metre over the legal limit.

Following cases of overloading, the RTA issued a bulletin in September reminding transporters of their obligations to carting wool bales.

The RTA spokesman believes the bulletin might have been misinterpreted by some, leading to rumours in the industry of an impending enforcement crackdown and changes to existing regulations.

After claiming the regulation was changing from 2.7 metres to 2.5 metres, Fardell went on to say truck drivers would dump wool bales on the side of the road to comply.

"That will result in the absurd situation of millions of dollars of wool being dumped on the roadside," Fardell claimed.

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