Australian transport industry leaders have called on animal rights activists planning protests to keep a safe distance from the industry’s trucks.
Australian Trucking Association chair Geoff Crouch and Australian Livestock Transporters’ Association president Kevin Keenan issued the warning recently ahead of announcements that vegan activists were planning to protest outside a Victorian pig processing plant.
Mr Crouch urged protesters to keep their distance from livestock trucks to protect their safety.
“Heavy vehicles have blind spots immediately behind the trailer, immediately in front of the bonnet and to the left and right of the doors,” Mr Crouch said.
“Protesters need to stay out of these blind spots and away from our equipment for their own safety.”
He said that protesters should remember that the industry’s professional drivers were subject to tight fatigue controls set by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
“In the run up to Christmas, our hard-working professional drivers do not have the luxury of taking time off to protest. They are hard at work and have to comply with the NHVR’s fatigue requirements.
“Even a short delay in getting to their destination could mean that they have to spend another night away from home and their families because they are out of work hours.”
Mr Keenan said that the livestock sector took a proactive approach to safeguarding animal welfare and now has an end-to-end system in place.
“Caring for live cargoes is a unique part of the rural road transport task that is under constant scrutiny by markets, governments and the community,” Mr Keenan said.
“During the past three years, our National Animal Welfare Committee has examined our role in the supply chain and championed several important new initiatives.
“For example, we have published national guidelines on the safe design of ramps and forcing yards, conducted a thorough review of the TruckSafe Animal Welfare Module and established LivestockASSIST – a 24hr national hotline dedicated to coordinating emergency responses.”
“On top of that, all supply chain parties must adhere to the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Land Transport of Livestock and we have taken a strong stance to support mandatory application of electronic stability control on new trucks and trailers to reduce on-road risks.”
“Our sector now has a holistic approach to promoting positive animal welfare outcomes that commences with vehicle selection, livestock preparation, through loading, transport, unloading and emergency responses in the rare event that things go wrong.”
“We are proud of who we are and what we do. We expect our member operators to uphold the highest possible animal welfare standards at all times.”
Mr Keenan said some individuals with a philosophical opposition to meat production ignored the positive action being taken by industry.
“Climbing on trucks, yelling and shining bright TV lights is not only unsafe but is also incredibly stressful for the animals,” he said.
“If the activists must, I urge them to protest peacefully and at least have some regard for their own safety, the safety of our drivers and the immediate welfare of the animals,” he said.
The ALRTA National Animal Welfare Policy can be downloaded from ALRTA website.