WA Government eases curfews on oversize agricultural vehicles

Image by Shutterstock.
Image by Shutterstock.

The WA Government has eased Easter and Christmas curfews for oversize agricultural vehicles allowing them to travel along more regional transport routes provided they are under 5.5 metres in width.

The change was made to allow farmers to continue operating efficiently during what could be busy seeding and harvesting periods.

For the past 15 years a curfew applied to oversize vehicles over the Easter and Christmas periods - preventing them from moving across WA's road network during the two busiest holiday seasons.

The curfew has been lifted on all except Perth metro roads and 11 major regional transport routes and will only apply to agricultural vehicles above 5.5 metres in width.

The curfew for oversize agricultural vehicles now only applies to the following roads:

  • All roads within the metropolitan area
  • Albany Highway
  • Brand Highway
  • Brookton Highway
  • Bussell Highway
  • Forrest Highway
  • Indian Ocean Drive
  • Muir Highway
  • North West Coastal Highway (Geraldton to Kalbarri turn-off)
  • Northampton Kalbarri Road
  • South Coast Highway
  • South Western Highway

Main Roads has also developed an Agricultural Combinations Order to reduce the level of red tape for the agricultural industry.

The changes mean farmers only need to obtain a permit when an over-mass agricultural combination is required to cross a bridge.

Local Government Agricultural Freight Group chairman Ken Seymour said the change was better than nothing but there would still be farmers breaking the law trying to get from one side of their farm to the other.

The freight group work with the WA Local Government Association to bring local governments together on freight issues within the agriculture industry.

Mr Seymour said growers who had blocks of land either side of those highways would still be stuck on one part of their farm.

"It is disappointing but at least there has been some movement," he said

"It is good to see some commonsense has prevailed, grain growers are weather dependent and deal with a perishable commodity.

"Christmas and Easter can be the busiest times for growers if we have rain.

"It can also be the busiest time for sowing as well.

"Under the curfew farmers could sacrifice optimum seeding conditions which goes back to being able to seed in optimum conditions and maximise yields.

"Unfortunately these regulations have been in for a very long time but were never enforced, it probably shows how government departments, at times, are still out of touch.

"It is up to the growers and community members to educate these government departments and change the culture."

Mr Seymour said Australia's culture towards food production also needed to change.

"Not many people in Australia go hungry," he said.

"In parts of Europe and the USA, if you produce food you are classified as the most important people in the country," he said.

"Grain growers over here don't want to be considered the most important people in the country but it goes to show - not many people have had a good meal out of iron ore, gas or gold for a long time.

"In a way we need to change the culture within Australia and realise that producing food is king."

Shadow minister for transport Libby Mettam wrote to the transport minister Rita Saffioti in September, on behalf of industry groups which also included Wines of WA and the WA Farmers Federation.

Ms Mettam stated the curfew during critical times could result in considerable costs to industry through lost production causing financial distress in severe circumstances.

"As it's in the interests of the state to ensure a high level of compliance with road regulations, every effort should be made to ensure the rules and access work for all road users all the time," she said.

Transport minister Rita Saffioti said she asked Main Roads to review the curfews which were applied to the movement of agricultural vehicles following operational concerns raised by the industry.

"I thank agricultural industry representative groups for their positive contribution in the development of these practical solutions for the safe movement of agricultural vehicles and equipment," she said.