ROAD train changes proposed by Transport Minister Alannah McTiernan could cost rural and remote WA more than $10 million a year in extra freight and road maintenance, result in more country job losses, and increase the risk of accidents on metropolitan roads, according to the Pastoralists and Graziers' Association.
PGA Western Graingrowers' chairman Leon Bradley said Ms McTiernan was apparently unaware of the implications of her decision to ban road trains.
He said the PGA would attend the Minister's road train summit on May 5 to point out that her proposals would:
€Cost $3 per tonne more on grain and fertiliser movements to and from the metropolitan area.
€Threaten meat industry jobs at Katanning and Albany and incur extra costs on sheep €roducers, by increasing sheep freight costs 25 cents per head.
€Significantly increase truck volumes, wear and tear ‹ and accident risk ‹ on metropolitan roads.
€Increase fuel usage, truck driver fatigue and stress on animals.
Mr Bradley said farmers had to convince Ms McTiernan that her plans would not only result in major cost increases for the grain and livestock industries, but that road trains reduced ‹ rather than increased ‹ accident risk on city roads.
Kojonup farmer and transporter Neville Matthews told a recent PGA Grains Committee meeting that the safest and most efficient road train combinations currently being used or trialled, all exceeded the Minister's maximum specified length of 25-27.5 metres.
"Her plan will cut grain and fertiliser loads from 72 and 52 tonnes down to 40 M/Tonnes, forcing farmer freight costs up by more than $3 per tonne and causing hundreds more truck movements in the city each day," he said.
"Cutting the length of livestock units and removing access permits to the Baldivis and Midland areas will destroy WA's competitive freight edge over Eastern States processors and shippers, developed under previous transport ministers."
He said smaller livestock units would incur major extra freight costs between Midland and WA's major export sheep processing plants at Katanning and Narrikup.
"The current system is the safest, and most efficient for moving big numbers of stock between country and city and any downsizing will increase freight costs to country people by at least ten percent," Mr Bradley said.
Mr Bradley said the road train system had achieved many more benefits than liabilities for the State, and rural people would fight to ensure that it was not dismantled.