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Industry slings mud back at Melbourne livestock transport call

Councillor proposes city ban as peak bodies point to tunnel restrictions


Commentary on the aesthetic impact of livestock transport through central Melbourne has drawn the ire of Victorian transport groups.

It was revealed that Melbourne councillor Nick Reece floated the idea of livestock truck restrictions on Southbank’s City Road at a Yarra River Business Association lunch.

His reasoning was that “anyone who lives or works in Southbank knows, the smell, the noise, the manure and effluent on the road from cattle trucks [is] a terrible advertisement for Melbourne”.

“What would a tourist to Melbourne think if cattle effluent spilled on them as they walked along City Road?’’ he was quoted as saying.

Southbank Residents Association president Tony Penna extended that sentiment to placarded loads such as dangerous liquids.

Those views were to the chagrin of the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria (LRTAV) and the Victorian Transport Association (VTA), who point to the realities of road infrastructure and animal welfare in Melbourne.

VTA, fresh off its negotiations with Victorian authorities and the Maribyrnong Truck Action Group (MTAG) on truck restrictions in Melbourne’s inner west, notes transporters use the City Road route out of necessity rather than choice due to height restrictions on the Domain and Burnley tunnels.

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“The City of Melbourne’s latest thought bubble about restricting heavy vehicle movements – this time banning trucks transporting livestock on City Road – is a further example of their insular approach to transport and the safe and efficient movement of goods around and through our city.

“It also contradicts VicRoads livestock transport advice and shows a disregard for animal welfare, which was one of the reasons Transurban and the industry agreed that trucks should bypass the CityLink tunnels when carting livestock on the top deck.

“There have been documented cases of animals getting injured or worse in the CityLink tunnels after rearing and striking overhead signage.

“The reason truck drivers are advised not to use the tunnels when transporting livestock is that we don’t want to see TV and social media pictures of animals getting injured or decapitated, and the associated impact creating a hazard for other road users in the tunnels.

“Diverting livestock trucks to City Road, which is a major arterial thoroughfare and a designated route for trucks that by law cannot use the tunnels, is a practical solution for mitigating legitimate animal welfare risks, and efficiently transporting livestock through Melbourne and around Victoria.

“CityLink and the M1 are essential transport corridors for all Victorian freight and logistics operators.

“The North East Link, when completed, will provide an alternative for heavy vehicles transporting goods around Melbourne, but is probably a decade away.

“Until then, City Road must remain a diversionary thoroughfare for all heavy vehicles that, for safety reasons, are unable to use the CityLink tunnels.”

LRTAV added its weight to the debate, expressing its frustration at the statements.

“Very disappointing to see these comments from a Melbourne City Councillor,” it says in a statement.

“If the tunnels were built to accommodate 4.6m trailers, then vehicles could stay on the big roads where they want to be.

“No operator would choose to divert onto busy city roads but animal welfare dictates that we do.

“And VicRoads determines that we must when the top deck is loaded.

“Let’s hope common sense prevails.

“We would ask Jaala Pulford MP to support our transport operators in an industry that supports a multi-billion dollar agricultural sector and our farmers.”

In an interview with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, Melbourne mayor Sally Capp sought to distance herself from Reece’s original comments.

“We don’t make that decision, that’s a VicRoads road,” Capp says.

“If there are animals on the top deck, they don’t go through the tunnel.

“There’s been a lot of discussion and thought on ways of getting our trucks into and out of the port – it’s a very important part of the Victorian economy.

“There are more than 22,000 vehicles that travel along City Road and about 1,400 of them are heavy vehicles – in a day.

“It’s about getting that balance between understanding that that is a heavy commercial zone but has also become our most densely – residential – populated neighbourhood.”


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