Frasers Livestock Transport co-principal and managing director, Ross Fraser, has taken an active interest in his industry’s affairs over many years.
Over the past four decades he has become a prominent figure in the transport industry’s lobby effort with Federal and State governments to improve the sector’s ability to efficiently handle the demands of the Australian beef supply chain, both from a regulatory and jurisdictional perspective.
Mr Fraser was a founding member of the Livestock Transport Association of Queensland (LTAQ) in 1981, and the Australian Livestock Transport Association (ALTA), serving lengthy terms as president, secretary and treasurer of both organisations.
He also represented the livestock sector on the council of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), representing the nation’s entire road transport industry, before being appointed to its board of management, and serving as chairman from 2004 to 2006.
During an interview for Friday’s profile on Frasers Transport for Beef Central’s Top 25 feature, (click here to view), Mr Fraser said regulatory changes in Queensland, in areas like multiple trailer combinations, had played an important part in growth in livestock transport businesses in the nation’s largest beef state.
“Generally speaking, we’ve been fortunate to have had an approachable and responsive Queensland Transport/Department of Mains Roads over the years,” he said.
“The departments have worked with the industry very well in areas like progressing multi-trailer combination operations.”
“For example we can now bring roadtrains into places like Warwick and Toowoomba, and triple trailers into Townsville. Type 2’s (three double trailers) are currently allowed in as far east as Mitchell, and soon to be Roma, which is improving transport efficiency,” Mr Fraser said.
“There’s no doubt that Queensland has led such reforms, and a lot of the work behind that has been done by the LTAQ, in conjunction with the State Government.”
Mr Fraser said there was further room for road access reforms, particularly with the B-triple transport configuration, which is regarded as a safer vehicle than the type-2 roadtrain because of its tracking characteristics. Two B-doubles can now be hitched together to make six decks in parts of Queensland, but only on type-2 roadtrain routes.
Mr Fraser supported earlier comments made in Beef Central’s Top 25 feature by Stephen Curley, from Curley Cattle Transport in Cloncurry, about the need for an efficient rail transport system in the state, especially during times of peak cattle movement.
“Trucks have copped the blame for pushing rail out the door in Queensland, but that’s not the case. It was the sheer inefficiency of the rail system that caused that,” he said.
The decline in rail services was identified in Friday’s article as one of the big turning points for Frasers Transport’s development, in having to try to cope with much larger numbers of cattle shifting out of western areas of Queensland by road. But there were times of year when the road transport sector’s ability to deliver on seasonal demand could be stretched to breaking point.
While the drought in the past 12 months has obviously bought its own challenges, Mr Fraser said the big wet seasons for the two years previous had also severely affected road transport operations.
“The lack of ability to shift cattle because of the conditions and road access severely affected all of us, so far as turnover went, in those two years,” he said.
The current roadworks taking place on key access routes in southern Queensland had only exacerbated those operating issues.
“While we realise that the roadworks has to be done, and we appreciate the fact that these roads are being upgraded, the timing in many cases has been terrible,” he said.
“Work is happening right now on the Cunningham’s Gap road from the southern down to the coast, but what a time to do it: everybody is flat out at this time of year.”
The big challenge over road improvement was the availability of funding, Mr Fraser said.
“As much as I hate to say it, I think we’re going to have to see some more toll roads. It could be part of a solution, in some areas. If an operator wants to run bigger, multiple trailer combinations on a toll road, they would pay the duty to do that, relative to other road users.”
Innovations seen in cross loading module
Earlier this year, a new cross-loading module designed and manufactured by Frasers Transport received widespread interest across circles, and featured in a report on by Beef Central.
The module recently received the Queensland Safe Work Awards’ "Best Solution to an identified work health and safety issue" award and the 2013 Queensland Trucking Association safety award.
The cross-loader addresses workplace health and safety, time-management and animal welfare issues with a series of elevated platforms, over-trailer walkways sliding gates and barriers.
As the judges' choice category winner, the Frasers cross-loader will go forward to the 2014 National Safe Work awards early next year.
- Click here to access an article and video of the Fraser’s cross loading module, as reported by Beef Central back in September.
- Click here to access a video of the module’s receipt of the National Safe Work awards, including comments from Ross Fraser.