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.