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It is a load of crap......AU$550 for wee spills


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Big Rigs  /  January 16, 2017

Fines for minor spillages under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), towns complaining, arguments over liability for spillage between livestock carriers and primary producers. It's all a bit of a mess.

We're talking about effluent, that mix of faeces and urine - cow, pig and sheep sh*t!

New South Wales is hitting livestock carriers hard with $550 fines for dropping small amounts of effluent.

These fines do not come under environmental or council legislation but under the improper restraint clauses of the HVNL.

The future is clear, no matter how ridiculous it might be, effluent management systems for livestock hauliers are coming for all Australia, even if some years down the track for more remote regions.

Industry associations like the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) and its state subsidiaries are jockeying to stem the surge towards national law by invoking the sharing of liability for effluent spillage "up the chain” within COR legislation.

After all, "it's not our effluent”, one association member told Big Rigs, saying that the client owned the livestock and therefore any forthcoming effluent.

The ALRTA says it has successfully argued to the Queensland Parliamentary Transport and Utilities Committee that the application of chain of responsibility laws to effluent control must be clarified.

The Queensland Minister for transport has directed the NTC to clarify the matter within the next 12 months.

"We are putting all options on the table including a full exemption under the Heavy Vehicle National Law.”

Graham Hoare from Martin's transport is the south-east Queensland delegate for the LRTAQ and he said many livestock transporters are trying to keep ahead of the game, especially close to the metropolitan areas of south-east Queensland.

"All the abattoirs and meatworks are in the Brisbane area and while we have fitted effluent tanks there is nowhere to empty them before we come into the metropolitan area,” he told Big Rigs.

Mr Hoare agrees that the RMS in New South Wales is savage on effluent and said Queensland operators are trying to be proactive before legislation moves on the issue.

All new livestock trailers must be fitted with effluent tanks "but we need somewhere to empty the tanks, like near the new Toowoomba bypass. That would be ideal”.

While Mr Hoare says the industry is responding, the government and councils need to keep up and match the operator's investments in effluent facilities.

"We want to lead the way and we are looking at the example of New Zealand to find out ways around this problem.”

Mr Hoare said cattle producers and feed lot management are not buying into the liability of effluent, saying once the cattle are on the truck, it's the operator's responsibility.

CEO of the Australian Livestock and Rural Transport Association based in Canberra is Matthew Munro.

He said effluent control is a core part of the livestock transport process.

He said the root cause locks in to the chain of responsibility and a cattle producer providing cattle to a transporter is an integral link in the chain.

If there is a breach under the restraint clauses of the NHVL, that producer and their role fits into the HVNL definition of packer therefore carries responsibility under COR.

He said while producers and livestock handlers are resisting liability, this is not an excuse to expect the transport operator to break the law.

He uses the example of fresh seafood having to be carried from the coast several hundred kilometres to where it will be sold with the inherent need for it to arrive fresh.

But in this case there is no expectation for the transport operation to break the speed limit legislation to get it to its destination in a more fresh condition.

He said there is a need for transport operators, producers and livestock companies to work together to find a harmonious solution to this issue by having the cattle in the most appropriate condition, possibly after a curfew, before loading so keeping the best balance between livestock weights at the saleyard and the transport operator meeting the requirements of the law.

The other alternative, says Mr Munro, is that the definitions under the HVNL be changed so that effluent is no longer covered under the restraint conditions.

"Cattle producers are aware and they don't really want the transport operator to break the law, however their outlook is driven by market incentives and the way I see forward is a combination of the transport operator using effluent tanks on livestock trailers, that suitable dumping facilities for effluent are provided in appropriate places and the condition of livestock when loaded are suitable for transport in that there has been a curfew if the cattle are coming off green feed.”

Mr Munro said the livestock associations are working towards setting up a set of guidelines that will keep both the producers and the transporters safe and that risk is assessed before the transport task.

The south-east Queensland town of Kilcoy is currently an effluent hotspot. Big Rigs contacted the Somerset Regional Council for comment.

Biosecurity

The ALRTA is concerned that effluent is a prime vector of disease.

For example in the case of a foot and mouth outbreak in Northern Australia, Mr Munro says that such an outbreak could cost the nation $60 billion.

However effluent control and a simple alkaline or acid detergent wash at facilities could stop the spread of the disease.

"$50 million spent now could save billions and entire industries in the future,” Mr Munro said, ending the report.

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