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Farmers come to Canberra to warn Government not to rollover on quad bike safety change
10 September 2019
The National Farmers' Federation is warning the Government that lives will continue to be lost if a simple but life-saving change isn't made to improve quad bike safety.
The NFF took its frustration to Parliament House, Canberra today with the personal stories of farmers injured in quad bike rollovers and a quad bike operator protection device (OPD) demonstration.
In March, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommended the Government mandate the fitting of OPDs on all new quad bikes within 24 months.
For reasons that are not clear, the Government is stalling on making the transformational change which requires the Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar to do nothing more than make a simple administrative alteration.
NFF President Fiona Simson said the message to the Government was simple: act now to help prevent further tragedy.
"Already this year eight people have died in quad bike rollovers, five since the ACCC report was handed down. Since 2001, the lives of 230 people, including many children, have been cut short.
"Despite these horrifying incidents and the pain and suffering for families and regional communities, the Coalition Government won't commit to playing its part in protecting farmers from death and life-altering injuries caused by quad bike rollover.
At the demonstration on the lawns of Parliament House, the NFF was supported by the Rural Doctors Association of Australia and the Australian Workers Union. Labor Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones MP and Greens Agriculture spokesperson Senator Janet Rice also spoke in support.
The Australian Medical Association, the Royal Flying Doctors Service, the Country Women's Association, the National Rural Health Alliance and the Centre for Farmer Health all support the ACCC's recommendations.
"If only those standing in the way of the recommendation could visit our rural emergency departments when a farmer, or a farmer's child, is rushed in with critical injuries due to a quad bike rollover, I'm sure they would change their mind immediately," RDAA President, Dr Adam Coltzau said.
"These incidents are incredibly traumatic for all involved, and it is made even more traumatic because it is preventable through the fitting of an OPD."
In July, the NFF led a delegation of farmers to meet with MPs and Senators. These meetings revealed a lack of understanding of OPDs and quad bike operation including that working dogs can't jump on the back of bikes with OPDs. Slim, the kelpie was at the demonstration to categorically dismiss this concern. OPD manufacturers were also on hand to explain how the devices work when in operation.
Disturbingly there was also a level of misinformation that had allegedly been seeded by sources with a vested interest in seeing the change stifled. Quad manufacturers Honda and Yamaha have previously threatened to withdraw from the Australian market if the change was enacted. Other manufacturers have committed to adopt OPDs.
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