There are calls to make sure Chain of Responsibility laws are not lost.
There are calls to make sure Chain of Responsibility laws are not lost.

Maintain Chain of Responsibility

THE Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association has written to Premier Campbell Newman asking him not to "break the chain".

In a recent newsletter ALRTA president John Beer warned more cuts to Chain of Responsibility laws could be "fatal".

"High up in the Queensland Government, a backroom player has been pushing to roll back the nation's Chain of Responsibility laws," Mr Beer wrote.

"In the last few weeks, a deal's been done to slash the number of Chain of Responsibility offences that can apply to company directors, chief executives, and senior managers of corporations."

Mr Beer has said Chain of Responsibility provisions would be cut from 300 to 160.

"On Monday, August 13, every minister in the country actually voted in favour of this change. It's already a done deal."

Mr Beer said the State Government was likely to call for even more cuts before the laws were finished.

"It seems that the new Queensland Government has become convinced that these laws have got to go because they are written in a legal style that reverses the presumption of innocence. And that's true.

"Current Chain of Responsibility laws in this country are written in this style, because this is how almost all road transport laws are written.

"Roll past a stop sign, and it's up to you to prove that you were really trying to avoid doing so. Go faster than the speed limit, and you'll need to prove that you had a good reason for that.

"Under current Chain of Responsibility laws, a senior manager is accountable for ensuring that a truck, its driver, and the freight on board are all legal and safe. If something goes wrong, that manager has a 'reasonable steps defence'. He or she has to show that every reasonable step had been taken.

"The Chain of Responsibility laws are tough. And they were meant to be. Because that's what it has taken to make freight customers even begin to sit up and pay attention.

"Chain of Responsibility laws put every freight customer into the same legal situation as the driver at the wheel: you're liable, and so is your customer.

"The change is being rushed through immediately."

Mr Beer said there had been no assessment of whether the laws that were left would be effective in keeping customers motivated to do the right thing.

"And even more cuts...may occur before these laws are finished. Who knows what'll be left? Who knows if the chain will have any real strength left in it?

"For every driver who's out on the road, the gains we've started to see through the impact of Chain of Responsibility are now at risk. If we lose the chain, do you really think we'll get it back?

"It took more than 10 years to get the current Chain of Responsibility laws in place. There are no guarantees that any replacement laws will be delivered any quicker, or even at all.

"We're happy to support the current laws being replaced with new, fairer and more effective laws.

"Australia can have Chain of Responsibility laws that are fair, strong and effective, all at the same time.

"But governments must not tear down what we've got and leave us with just a promise to repair the damage."

The ALRTA's National Council has vowed to publicly fight any further rollback of the chain.

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