Machinery

Farmers call quad manufacturers’ bluff

Grain Central, May 13, 2019

NATIONAL Farmers Federation (NFF) workforce committee chair, Charlie Armstrong, has taken to task quad bike manufacturers who are threatening to withdraw from the market if they are forced to adopt stricter safety measures.

Honda and Yamaha have announced they will cease selling quad bikes in Australia should the Australian Parliament adopt additional safety measures recommended by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The recommendations include the introduction of a mandatory safety standard and the fitting of operator protection devices (OPDs).

Mr Armstrong said the NFF strongly supported the new measures.

He said in light of the disclosure farmers should think twice about buying from these manufacturers.

“In a way, we welcome the announcements. Assuming both Honda and Yamaha follow-through on their withdrawal, Australian farmers will be safer without the danger that their products currently pose,” he said.

“So, if it means fewer deaths and crippling injuries, then it’s hard to feel troubled.”

Mr Armstrong said in making their decision to withdraw from the Australian market, the manufacturers relied on misinformation, such as American computer modelling, which they commissioned, and which they claimed said the ACCC’s recommendations would make bikes unsafe.

In doing so, they have dismissed the consensus of a range of professional bodies with no commercial interest in the matter, including:

  • independent studies by Australian academics based on practical testing and research;
  • the opinions of peak health professionals and industry bodies who are mindful of increased costs but recognise the risk as unacceptable; and,
  • the recommendations of the ACCC following more than 18 months of consultation and analysis.

“The announcement is reminiscent of the motor vehicle industry’s responses to other safety measures such as the introduction of the ANCAP safety ratings and requirement to install tractor roll-over cages.

“Each of these has proven, well beyond any rational argument, to provide indispensable safety advances.

“Any suggestion to the contrary would be inconceivable today. So, it’s easy to forget that when government was considering these initiatives, the manufacturers fought aggressively to defeat them.”

Mr Armstrong said the decision by Honda and Yamaha would leave a hole in the market.

“But the void will be filled by other vehicles and manufacturers who embrace safety and are as horrified as the NFF at the frequent reports of death, and serious injury relating to quad bike use. If this move saves just one life, then it will be worth it,” he said.

Mr Armstrong said Government regulation to improve quad bike safety needed to be supported by investment in education and awareness about farm safety.

“To this end the NFF supports the Coalition’s commitment of $3.5 million to the longevity of organisations such as Farmsafe Australia. We call on the Opposition to also commit to this investment.”

Mr Armstrong said quad bikes accidents were the largest cause of death and injury on Australian farms.

Since 2011, 130 people have been killed in quad bike related accidents. On average six people per day are hospitalised with injuries relating to what are arguably a farm’s most popular piece of equipment.

Over the 2019 Easter period alone, three children lost their lives from incidents involving quad bikes.

Source: NFF

 

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Comments

  1. Robert Eassie, May 14, 2019

    Mr Armstrong and the NFF would do well to remember that the combined motor vehicle markets of Australia, Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand to name a few are not large enough to warrant the production of many Left Hand Drive passenger vehicles in RHD variants so why would the Australian quad market be large enough to warrant any changes to produce an specific Australian compliant model?
    Yamaha and Honda currently produce some of the safest variants and some argue the best fit for purpose quads available. Of course if Honda/Yamaha withdraw from the market, Mr Armstrong will advocate that they retain a parts and service division in Australia so parts remain available for the 1000’s of Yamaha and Honda bikes still in service. Or perhaps the NFF will finance a trade in scheme on second hand bikes that have no parts or service backup?
    Let’s hope next time the NFF might consult a little more broadly before they comment in areas that they have little skin in the game.

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