Livestock Loading Scheme to get LBCA push

By: Brad Gardner


Upcoming gathering will focus on getting a better deal for livestock transport sector

Livestock Loading Scheme to get LBCA push
The Livestock Loading Scheme permits livestock transporters to operate at higher mass limits.

 

The Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association (LBCA) will use an upcoming gathering of key government decision makers to push the case for an expansion of the Livestock Loading Scheme (LLS). 

New South Wales state and local politicians, government department officials and industry representatives will converge on the town of Walcha on October 7 for a one-day meeting on livestock transport issues.

The LBCA says the event will help it promote the benefits of the LLS, which industry supports but is struggling to gain traction with councils.

The state-run LLS permits eligible trucks to operate at higher mass limits (HML), but local councils must give their approval for trucks to travel on their road network. 

"The scheme itself is great, it is really strong it is respected by industry but there just isn’t enough take-up and that is a frustration for our members," LBCA general manager Bianca Brownlow says.

"I think it is a frustration for the broader agricultural industry as well because schemes like this improve productivity and efficiency and that is a benefit for the whole agricultural supply chain."

A recent review of the LLS found that only 21 councils in NSW were participating, while 81 had not opted in or out of it. 

Brownlow says the Walcha meeting will allow councillors, the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), trucking operators and farmers to put their views forward about the scheme and what can be done to improve participation rates. 

"Our goal is to keep talking about the Livestock Loading Scheme and to make sure that people understand the value it brings to not just transporters but to the whole agricultural supply chain. It is really important," Brownlow says.

She believes a combination of education about the LLS and funding for councils to ensure their roads can support HML loads is necessary to give the LLS the impetus it needs to grow. 

"It’s not just education, there does need to be investment as well and we’ve seen some really positive programs that have been put forward to assist councils to invest in upgrading roads," Brownlow says.

The NSW Government says it is planning a communications and awareness campaign to sell the benefits of the LLS to councils and to resolve issue preventing so many from adopting it. 

"Education can only be helpful, so the more information that you put out there and the more informed people are of the bigger picture then obviously it is better. We definitely support a communications approach," Brownlow says.

She says the Walcha meeting will also be an opportunity to discuss the successful Grain Harvest Management Scheme, HML in general and improving access for higher productivity vehicles on NSW roads. 

"It is primarily about making sure that councils do have access to all of that information, what are the funding programs that are available, what the schemes that are available, what are the benefits of the schemes, what is the operator’s story in all of this, what is the farmer’s story in all of this," Brownlow says.

"Putting all of those individual pieces of the puzzle together and presenting it as one picture to councils and giving them an opportunity also to ask questions and hear information directly from the source."

 

FARMERS NEED TO STEP UP

LBCA president Jock Carter last month called for the entire agricultural supply chain to get behind the LLS, while adding that there appeared to be misunderstanding among councils about the scheme.

Earlier this year, LBCA treasurer Graeme Hoare put the onus on the group’s members to put effort into getting farmers to support the LLS.

The LBCA has made some gains with the farming community, but Hoare says more needs to be done. 

"It is all for them, really. I wish they would help us more. I would really love the farmers to come on board because if the farmers at the farm gate talk to their councillors, the job would be a lot easier," he says.

"But the problem is the farmers do not understand either. They do not understand how it works, they don’t understand the repercussions of chain of responsibility. If the truck goes in there they want to get as much cattle on there as they can, but we have chain of responsibility. We don’t overload.

"They think once you drive out the farm gate that’s the end of it. The farmers don’t understand, or if they do they have just got their head in the sand, they don’t want to know."

Hoare says the LLS helps NSW compete with Queensland and Victoria — two jurisdictions that have generous livestock loading allowances. 

"We’ve just got to get the councils over the line for them to sign their roads up. They are just a little hesitant at the moment," he says. 

Hoare says some councils are unaware of the scheme while others are afraid about opening their roads to trucks. 

He says trucks will not be travelling down the main roads of shires. 

"We are going to the farm gate. We aren’t driving through their shire," he says.

"We just want the roads open to go to the actual farm gate."

Hoare is adamant any shire west of the Dividing Range needs to be part of the LLS. 

"West of the Dividing Range is our target. There’s no excuse for anyone west of the Divide to not be involved. We’ve got to start opening up NSW," he says.​

 

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