Blatantly unfair to prosecute drivers for effluent loss from livestock trucks: ALRTA

Beef Central, 07/11/2016

Should cattle producers or lot feeders be held responsible for effluent loss that occurs from their cattle during transport?

Under existing heavy transport laws, truck drivers can be prosecuted for effluent loss from their trucks when carting cattle.

The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association says it is clear that the problem is caused by lack of adequate pre-transport preparation of stock, yet only truck drivers have been prosecuted for the offence.

The ALRTA says it is ‘blatantly unfair’ to prosecute drivers for breaches caused by other parties, and is calling on transport regulators to get serious about improving chain of responsibility (CoR) rules for livestock transport.

Its call comes after a State Government report last week recommended that Federal and State Transport Ministers and the National Transport Commission work in the next 12 months consider ways to improve the transparency of Chain of Responsibility provisions to pre-transport stock preparation.

ALRTA President Kevin Keenan said that the matter has remained unresolved for two decades.

‘The loss of effluent from a heavy vehicle is routinely treated as a load restraint breach under the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

“It is widely known that the primary cause is inadequate preparation of livestock by chain parties prior to transport.

‘While CoR laws have been in place since 1997 for the purpose of holding off-road chain parties to account when their actions or omissions result in on-road breaches, the provisions have been wholly ineffective in influencing stock preparation practices.

“The law is not clear and there have been no known prosecutions of chain parties beyond the driver and operator in relation to effluent loss.

“Poor effluent control can have implications for road safety, animal welfare, biosecurity, public amenity and the environment.

“Trailer effluent tanks can only ever offer a partial solution because of their low capacity and the severe lack of managed dumping sites.’

“It is blatantly unfair to continue prosecuting drivers and operators for breaches caused by other parties in the chain.”

Mr Keenan said Governments should either make the CoR provisions clear and effective, or simply exempt effluent from the HVNL load restraint provisions altogether.

The ALRTA has previously obtained independent legal advice and made several detailed submissions to the NTC and to the Queensland Parliamentary Transport and Utilities Committee.



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  1. Livestock Carrier Victoria, 29/11/2016

    Truck tanks are only ever going to hold a small capacity of total effluent loss from animals. What is needed are truck washes, effluent dump points and better education of livestock producers on preparing stock for movement. Fines to livestock carriers will not fix the issue, penalise those who don’t prepare stock appropriately.

  2. Ann Bullen, 08/11/2016

    I have always wondered about curfew of cattle prior to transport whether it was for the comfort of the cattle or less work for the transporter in cleaning the truck. Managing the issue, better truck design (drainage and holding tanks), more discharge points seems sensible.

  3. Mike Introvigne, 08/11/2016

    Sandy, Rob & Sam have all hit the nail on the head. It is high time that beauraucrats got a real job or take a reality pill when devising new laws. The best solution would be to get rid of half of them and make the rest work smarter and consult with those that know what reality is so that our future is not dictated by idiots.

  4. Sam Gunn, 08/11/2016

    This is a ridiculous law that is enforced by over zealous RTA,RMS officers at their discretion. It is totally subjective and drivers CANNOT comply with the law with the crates we have. Fit to load guidelines are irrelevant, if a producer does everything by the book, and the truck drives under a thunder storm on the way to its destination then that truck then does not comply with effluent restraint laws. Its a joke, livestock will urinate and defacate on the way to a destination. Get over it and accept it!!!!!! Manage the issue, look at routes through towns and bypass options so that livestock trucks are directed away from hi population areas. Leaving this to RMS compliance officers to enforce this subjective issue is not fair on drivers. They are uncompromising and over zealous when using these laws.

  5. Rob Zalewski, 07/11/2016

    How do you tell a cow not to have a leak whilst on a truck? Do any of the lawmakers realise that cattle urinate when under stress?

  6. Sandy Maconochie, 07/11/2016

    ALRTA still refer to the term “inadequate preparation of livestock” as their argument and in the same breath align this with animal welfare. I remember fifteen years ago the then ALRTA president saying one doesn’t have a big meal before running the marathon. As far as l know, unless things have changed, livestock don’t run any or all or the journey. Do transport drivers themselves fast for twelve hours before a long journey? Transport is a major stress factor for livestock that becomes stress squared when livestock are subjected to fasting, leading to meat quality issues. Yes certainly implementation of tank emptying facilities and bigger tanks capable of holding more than anticipated effluent etc., would help.

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