NatRoad casts eye wider on wool bales

Industry group to lobby for changes to wool bale loading scheme in NSW to be extended nationwide under national regulations

By Brad Gardner | July 1, 2011

Industry group NatRoad plans to continue its campaign on wool bales, saying it will try to get changes to the scheme in NSW introduced nationwide.

NSW has moved away from the national system on wool bales after Roads Minister Duncan Gay decided to extend the width restriction from 2.5 to 2.7 metres.

The move was in response to concerted lobbying from NatRoad and farming groups on the basis the current restriction could not be complied with.

Gay plans to pass the concession as a regulation and NatRoad wants it retained under a local productivity provision when national heavy vehicle regulations begin in 2013.

If passed as a local productivity variation, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator will look at the policy to determine if it can be adopted in other jurisdictions.

"It will be put forward as a productivity variation. For the time being it will remain in NSW," NatRoad CEO Bernie Belacic says.

"It will need to be made nationwide ultimately."

Extending the NSW model beyond its borders will likely have a significant effect, with Belacic saying wool is transported between Queensland NSW and NSW and Victoria.

The local productivity variation provision is intended to retain the best intrastate schemes when national regulations begin and then to see if they can be used elsewhere.

The team responsible for establishing the framework of the regulator is currently looking at different variations and plans to complete its work by the end of the year.

The trucking industry’s hard-fought campaign to overturn a controversial wool loading policy has paid off, with NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay announcing an immediate concession.

NatRoad lobbied for two years to overturn the 2.5 metre width restriction, but is efforts repeatedly fell on deaf ears within the Roads and Traffic Authority.

Following Gay’s intervention to secure the reform, NatRoad President Rob McIntosh publicly thanked him for his efforts.

As well as extending the width restriction to 2.7 metres, Gay has ordered that vehicles travelling at night with loads exceeding 2.6 metres must have a flashing light, load delineators and warning signs.

There are also restrictions on using clearways and transit lanes, while operators are allowed a maximum 100mm side load projection on any one side of the vehicle.

"The conditions attached to the notice strike a reasonable balance between protecting public safety and the practical need to move wool from farm to port," McIntosh says.

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