THE NSW Farmers’ Association is urging farmers to ignore rumours quad bikes will soon become unavailable in NSW.
It follows announcements by some manufacturers they will be withdrawing from the local market as Australian safety regulations take effect (see Grain Central story).
NSW Farmers president, James Jackson, said a number of quad bike manufacturers had indicated to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) their continuing commitment to supply quad bikes to the Australian market.
“We commend these manufacturers who are dedicated to advance their quad bike design for safety improvement and encourage them to publicly announce their position sooner rather than later,” Mr Jackson said.
“It is regrettable that brands like Honda and Yamaha have said they will stop offering quad bikes to the Australian market, limiting some farmers’ access to their preferred brand. However, supply will meet demand.”
Quad bikes are the leading cause of on-farm deaths in NSW.
The ACCC concluded a consumer Safety Standard should be introduced applying to all new quad bikes. The Federal Government has passed legislation to that effect. The first phase of the new safety measures will begin in October.
“Quad bikes play an important role for many farmers as the “workhorse” on farm to perform a number of tasks. It is also fact that quad bikes can turn dangerous quickly if they are not appropriately used,” Mr Jackson said.
“That’s why the association has invested years of advocacy, working with regulators and other stakeholders to improve awareness of the limitations of quad bikes and the available safety solutions to minimise risks of injuries and fatalities, while at the same time ensuring farmers could continue to utilise quad bikes on farms with minimal legislative intervention.
“Some manufacturers announced they will pull out of the Australian market because of the new safety requirements, however, we’re confident Australia will follow in the same direction as Israel.
“Operator Protection Devices have been mandatory in Israel since the early 1990s, yet Israel still enjoys a competitive market for safe, compliant quad bikes.
“NSW Farmers wants to assure the farming community in NSW that quad bikes will continue on being available beyond October 2021. They aren’t going anywhere. But hopefully what will change is we’ll see fewer serious injuries and deaths.”
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has released an open letter to quad bike manufacturers:
“The VFF is disappointed by the announced withdrawal of a number of quad bike manufacturers from the Australian market. We cannot, and will not, back away from our stance that there is nothing more important than the safety of our farmers, our families and our farm workers.
The decision to withdraw products from the Australian market, rather than adhere to Australia’s new safety regulations, has caused significant angst in the farming community. Victorian farmers have enjoyed mutually beneficial relationships with manufacturers and their dealers for decades.
The new safety regulations, including the mandatory fitting of Operator Protection Devices (OPDs) from October 2021, are designed to address the 15 deaths and 650 hospitalisations per year caused by quad bike accidents, according to Safe Work Australia.
More than 5000 Victorian farmers have participated in Victoria’s quad bike rebate scheme, demonstrating their commitment to farm safety. We may be a small portion of the international quad bike market, but we also understand that we are not the first country to mandate roll over protection, and that we will not be the last.
Rollover protection has been mandatory in Israel since the early 1990’s, yet Israel still enjoys a competitive market for safe, compliant quad bikes. Despite the original withdrawal of some manufacturers from the Israeli marketplace their quad bikes are still available for sale there.
We commend the manufacturers that have committed to remain in the Australian market for demonstrating the workability of Australia’s laws and for putting safety first. We hope that other manufacturers also choose to stay, retaining the mutually rewarding relationships our members have with them and their dealers.”
Victorian Farmers Federation
Sources: NSW Farmers, VFF