Kurtz Transport reviews operations over hoon law risk

QTA seeks talks on hoon law enforcement after police impound truck due to unlicensed driver

Kurtz Transport reviews operations over hoon law risk
Kurtz Transport reviews operations over anti-hoon law

November 8, 2013

Trucking industry representatives in Queensland and the company involved are mobilising to tackle the initial impact of new anti-hooning laws on transport firms.

It emerges that, on the very day strengthened provisions of the Police Powers and Responsibilities (Motor Vehicle Impoundment) and Other Legislation. Amendment Act 2013 came into force, they were used to impound a Kurtz Transport truck.

According to parliamentary statements and the relevant parliamentary committee report, the amendments were enacted with a view to smoothing the way for the impounding of cars involved in street racing, burnouts or making unsociable noise.

"The Queensland Police Service [QPS]
is aware of an offence that occurred on November 1, 2013 in the Darling Downs area where a truck was being driven by an unlicensed driver (Type 2 Offence)," a police staement to ATN

"The attending police officers considered a range of options available to them and chose to immobilise the vehicle through number plate confiscation.

"Due the circumstances, the police officers issued a Vehicle Production Notice, and allowed the vehicle to be driven by a licenced driver to complete deliveries and produce the vehicle at 5pm later that day at the employers Brisbane depot.

"Police attended the depot at the nominated time and immobilised the vehicle by way of number plate confiscation for 7 days.

"The employer then made Application for Early Release of Vehicle to the local police station. The application was assessed and the vehicle was released in accordance with the timeframes (ie. 5 business days)."

It is understood that police involved told Kurtz Transport that the actions they were taking were as a result of changes due to the new legislation and would inform their actions in future.

Queensland Transport Association (QTA) CEO Peter Garske has moved to take up the case with senior state police and bureaucrats in the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

"Clearly, the consequences of the legislation are inadvertently being applied to the heavy vehicle industry," Garske says.

The incident has forced a review of practices at Kurtz Transport.

"We are currently undertaking a legal and compliance due diligence on the impact and management of the commercial risks associated with this new legislation," Managing Director David Nothdurft says.

The seemingly unintended enforcement consequences of the new rules have brought the industry-wide issue of chain of responsibility protection, privacy provisions in relation to the status of drivers’ licences and the ability of managers to run operations safely and effectively under such pressures into sharp relief.

While initial legal advice has been for managers to seek the traffic history of its drivers, Garske and others argue that authorities demand companies improve road safety while withholding, through privacy provisions, the tools to allow managers to do so.

It is understood that Kurtz Transport had no idea its driver has lost his licence and would not have allowed him to drive had it known but its ability to stay informed of this status is unrealised.

The issue continues to exercise minds at the Australian Trucking Association.

"Our view is that trucking business should be notified whenever a driver commits and offence in one of their vehicles." National Manager Government Relations Bill McKinley says.

"And that is because, under chain of responsibility laws, the business, its directors and managers commit and offence whenever someone in one of their vehicles commits and offence.

"As a result, if you are not notified every time someone commits and offence, you are committing offences that you can’t do anything about.

"You can’t take reasonable steps to stop those offences from occurring because you don’t know they are happening."

The Parliamentary committee that oversaw the anti-hoon laws
does touch on aspects of enforcement and retrieval of vehicles by owners but
was generally happy
with law.

"It is hopeful that the QPS will be able to develop appropriate internal policies to assist its members in the operation of the new provisions to avoid inconsistencies from occurring and ensuring all officers are on the same page when enforcing these provisions," its report says.

Asked if such outcomes as the Kurtz incident could have been foreseen and what should be done to rectify matters, committee Chairman and Ipswich MP Ian Berry says: "The committee’s views are reflected in the report dated 12 March 2013."

He directed further questions to the office of the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and to police.

Calls to the offices of the police minister and the transport minister are yet to be returned at deadline today.

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