The Commonwealth Government has announced it will invest $10 million over two years to improve safety at livestock saleyards, and to upgrade other key facilities used by the livestock transport industry throughout Australia.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, told the House of Representatives yesterday that the decision was taken after the Independent Member for New England, Tony Windsor, asked the Government to increase funding to the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, in order to address issues faced by rural livestock drivers.
“This investment package will save the lives of our drivers,” said John Beer, National President of the Australian Livestock and Rural Transport Association (ALRTA).
“Every year, rural livestock drivers pay the cost for having to work in out-dated facilities.
“Last year, a driver in Victoria was placed in a coma after being struck in the head by an old-fashioned gate that was knocked by bull.
“From South Australia, my former national vice-president was hospitalised when he was trapped, unable to escape from a badly-designed ramp, and was run-over by three steers.
“In Queensland recently, one of the very best companies in my industry lost a 44 year old driver who was gored by a bull.”
“In my industry, livestock drivers are regularly asked to load cattle, sheep and pigs using stock ramps that are badly designed, badly maintained and simply unsafe to use.
“Our drivers are also regularly asked to work in facilities which have loose swinging gates and dangerous pens which don’t adequately protect the driver from the livestock.
“We’re grateful to Tony Windsor for securing action from the Government on these safety issues that face rural livestock drivers,” said John.
Funding applications under the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program need to be put forward to the Commonwealth Government through the States and Territories.
“The ALRTA invites Councils and private businesses that operate saleyards and other facilities, such as long-distance transport spelling yards, to work with us in putting forward joint-submissions to each State and Territory Government,” said John.
“Funding submissions will require the support of each State Minister for Roads and Transport. The ALRTA has a lot of expertise in this area and, by working with the ALRTA, Councils will improve their chances of success,” said John.
ALRTA’s full position statement, dated June 2012, regarding the Road User Charge Determination (No. 1) 2012 can be found by clicking here
Below is a media statement issued by Tony Windsor in relation to the new funding commitment:
Extra funds to improve safety at saleyards
Saleyard operators and livestock transporters are being urged to seek funding after the federal government agreed to commit $10 million to safety upgrades at saleyards for the first time, following negotiations with the Independent Member for New England, Tony Windsor.
The government had already allocated $40 million to Round Three of the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, which is dedicated to upgrading the safety of Australia’s road network for trucking industry workers.
The agreement to boost the grants program by an extra $10 million and extend it to saleyard infrastructure was reached after the concerns of the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) were represented to Mr Windsor by National President John Beer and former President David Smith.
“Older ramps and gates at saleyards put workers and truck drivers at serious risk of death and injury,” Mr Windsor said.
“Three people have died in Australian saleyards since May 2010, and obviously the number of accidents is much higher.
“It is crucial that ageing and unsafe infrastructure at saleyards is upgraded to prevent serious injury and death.
“New ramps, gates and other infrastructure provided by this federal funding will protect rural workers, truck drivers and their families,” Mr Windsor said.
Submissions for funding under Round Three of the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program should be made to both the relevant state government and the Commonwealth by October 31st.
Formal applications for funding will be made by state governments, but the Commonwealth will make the final funding decision with regard to the submissions received directly from applicants.
“I’d like to encourage industry stakeholders and saleyard operators, including local councils, to work with the ALRTA to make a submission for this new funding,” Mr Windsor said.
“I’d also like to acknowledge the federal government for agreeing to boost the grants program from $40 million to $50 million to include safety upgrades at saleyards,” Mr Windsor concluded.