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Delivery of hay and fodder to drought-affected farmers now easier

From midnight last night, it was easier for trucking operators to deliver hay and fodder to drought-affected farmers.

The Australian Government announced new rules for transporting hay and fodder yesterday, which mean that hay and fodder trucks up to 2.83 metres wide and 4.6 metres high will no longer need permits on the state-controlled road network.

Trucking industry representatives joined the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in NSW for the announcement of the new measures.

The CEO of the Australian Trucking Association, Ben Maguire, said the existing rules for hay and fodder transport were all over the place.

“In NSW, the maximum allowed width for transporting baled or rolled hay to drought affected areas is 2.83 metres. In South Australia, it is 2.7 metres. In Queensland, it is 2.5 metres. Similarly, the maximum height allowed varies between 4.3 and 4.6 metres.

“The new rules will standardise the maximum dimensions for eligible vehicles at 2.83 metres wide and 4.6 metres high.

“The rules will remove the need for up to 6,000 consents per year and will save trucking operators and farmers the equivalent of 54,000 days per year applying and waiting for permits.

“It’s a great outcome that will make it easier for our members to deliver hay and fodder to Australia’s hard-pressed farmers.

“It was only possible, though, because the ATA and our member associations, and farm associations, worked closely together to pitch the case to governments for consistent rules.”

The National President of the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters’ Association, Kevin Keenan, said that removing regulatory barriers to the efficient movement of agricultural commodities by road must be a central tenet of improving Australia’s longer-term drought resilience.

“Australia is a diverse country that is highly reliant on road transport services,” Mr Keenan said.

“While the current drought circumstances in New South Wales and parts of Victoria and Queensland are at the extreme end of the spectrum, it is not unusual for there to be a mix of good and bad seasonal conditions across rural Australia.

“Today’s announcement will immediately reduce the cost of moving hay to where it is needed most while also reducing the risk of fines for carriers.

“The next step is for local governments to get on board as well, because the new notice only applies to state controlled roads,” he said.

The CEO of NatRoad, Warren Clark, said: “NatRoad is pleased with the Prime Minister’s announcement to extend the drought exemption to all states. This is a positive and necessary response to this unprecedented humanitarian emergency with the livelihoods of many Australian farmers at risk.

“In the lead-up to today’s announcement, NatRoad has strongly advocated for a harmonised heavy vehicle law across all states. We would like to thank the Government for listening. The exemption will help road transport businesses ensure that help reaches those affected by the drought when most needed.

“The steps show the government recognises the importance of the road transport industry in helping the farming community and we look forward to working with the government.”

The Chief Operating Officer of the NSW Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers’ Association, Bec Coleman, said “Today’s announcement will significantly improve access impediments, and remove unnecessary enforcement, that prevented the efficient and productive movement of supplies and stock to drought affected communities across NSW.

“The common-sense decision by the Australian Government will safeguard the future of many rural businesses across NSW and is welcomed by the LBRCA”, she said.

Exemption notice details