Legal action by the Roads and Traffic Authority, over 300 alleged breaches of chain
of responsibility laws against a grain operator, is a wake-up call to the business
community to improve its compliance with road laws, especially in relation to mass
According to the NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), the $18.2 million prosecution launched by the RTA upon the publicly listed, major grain operator GrainCorp relates to a period of just three days of business operations.
For the business community, this prosecution is a signal that road transport laws need to rate much higher on their corporate risk register.
“A prosecution that is potentially seeking fines equivalent to $6 million per day is something most businesses would only ever expect to see from the ACCC,” says ATA NSW Manager, Hugh McMaster.
“The mere fact that this prosecution has been launched is a clear wake up call to Australian businesses,” he says.
“Businesses need to pay close attention to how they select their road transport operator and whether their firm is being exposed to prosecution risks in this area.”
McMaster says the RTA last week issued advice to the grain sector on the importance of compliance with chain of responsibility laws.
”The RTA’s advice indicated that it used its new investigative powers to compulsorily acquire business records concerning a three day period of the 2005 Grain Harvest; the RTA analysed every truck movement into grain receivable facilities that occurred in those three days,” Mr McMaster says.
“The RTA has advised ATA NSW that the alleged breaches, which are the subject of this action, arise from this investigation.”
With penalties of $27,500 for a first offence and $55,000 for second and subsequent offences, GrainCorp faces potential fines totalling $18.2 million or slightly over $6 million per day.
McMaster says ATA NSW welcomes the action taken because it is directed towards a party in the supply chain the RTA believes is capable of influencing onroad compliance with chain of responsibility laws in NSW.
“Prior to the introduction of chain or responsibility laws in 2005, in areas related to heavy vehicle mass, dimensions and load restraint, the truck operator was the only party who could be charged with an offence,” McMaster says.
ATA NSW will support the actions of the RTA against any party and in any sector of the supply chain, especially where the RTA suspects systemic breaches of the law.