Wimmera farmers and farming bodies concerned over changes to chain of responsibility regulations

REGULATION CHANGES: Chain of Responsibility Implementation facilitator Brett Staker at the infomation session in Horsham last week. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI
REGULATION CHANGES: Chain of Responsibility Implementation facilitator Brett Staker at the infomation session in Horsham last week. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

Recent information sessions have only gone some way to allaying farmer concerns over the changes to Chain of Responsibility laws for heavy vehicles.

The changes come into effect from October 1 this year, and some parts of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator governed rules continue to cause concerns for farmers and their representative bodies.

An information session was held at Horsham RSL last week for locals to learn about the upcoming changes and was well attended by community members.

Victorian Farmers Federation Grains Group president Ross Johns said many farmers who attended the sessions had come away still anxious about things they were “not skilled in”.

Mr Johns said farmer members wanted to comply with the new regulations and abide by the law, however many still felt they didn’t have the skills needed.

He said the VFF would continue to argue for a logical enforcement process.

Tarranyurk farmer Marshall Rodda said many operators were already meeting most of the demands of the new regulations.

“Safety is paramount in the world,” he said.

“I run my own truck and we make sure everything is done right. 

“But if a contractor comes onto the farm I need to ask the questions. We do need clear direction from NHVR about what we need to ask. 

“The small operators have to do all the extra paperwork themselves. 

“The majority want to do the right thing and should have nothing to worry about.”

NHVR stakeholder specialist Simone Reinertsen said the sessions were about dispelling some of the myths about the new CoR regulations.

Ms Reinertsen said NHVR was approached by the state farmer groups to get more information out to farmers and were designed to inform farmers where they were responsible and where they weren’t.

She said a farmer who was simply a consignee of goods had little involvement in the chain.

“A key message is understanding where the farmer fits into the transport task and where they have control or influence over speed, fatigue, mass, dimensions and loading and vehicle standards,” she said.

She said farmers should at least make a note in a diary outlining the task details and confirming that they had a conversation about the task.

She said the changes brought the regulations into line with OH&S, and the need for steps that were “reasonably practicable”.

The new laws now reverted to people being “innocent until proven guilty”, with the onus on the investigator to prove guilt.