Farmers across Western Australia are furious.
With harvest mostly underway across the state and farmers using larger-than-ever agricultural vehicles to remove their crops from the paddock, it has come to farmers’ attention that changes have been made to regulations relating to the movement of agricultural vehicles.
WAFarmers Senior Vice President Lyn Slade said the organisation had taken many calls in recent days from concerned farmers regarding these changes, with most anxious to know whether they had been moving their machinery illegally.
“In the last few days, following the discovery of changes that restrict the movement of over-mass and over-size agricultural vehicles, WAFarmers has received numerous calls from farmers who were either preparing for harvest or who had already begun,” Mrs Slade said.
“WAFarmers contacted Main Roads WA last week to get written clarification regarding the legal movement of agricultural vehicles on public roads without a licensed pilot, as had previously been permitted under an exemption.
“Despite these phone calls and emails, currently Main Roads WA has not supplied written confirmation that farmers can legally move their vehicles without a licensed pilot.
“Another phone call today, this time to the Main Roads WA Heavy Vehicle hotline, confirmed that it is currently not legal for farmers to move their agricultural vehicles without an accredited pilot.
“Effectively, farmers currently moving any over-mass and over-size vehicles without an authorised pilot would be doing so illegally and possibly without insurance protection should an incident occur.”
Mrs Slade said farmers had the right to be furious that changes were made to the regulations without any consultation with the agricultural industry and furthermore, without any communication to farmers about these changes.
“Farmers needing to move vehicles over harvest have to be made fully aware of the implications of the changes to these regulations made by Main Roads WA, as many may be operating illegally,” she said.
“Given their poor performance thus far, Main Roads WA must immediately release this information and clearly communicate any changes to the regulations so that harvest can continue as efficiently and safely as possible.”
Mrs Slade said it was understood that Main Roads WA was working to put another exemption in place but that it would not be effective until after it has been formalised.