Scenic Rim farmers join petition to delay quad bike roll bar laws

LAW: Quad bikes must be fitted with roll bars from October 10.
LAW: Quad bikes must be fitted with roll bars from October 10.

Save the Quad Bike in Australia is calling on federal assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar to place a three year hold on Quad bike legislation requiring all new quad bikes to have roll bars installed.

The legislation was introduced as a safety measure in response to an increase in the number of quad bike fatalities but dissenters including Tarome farmer Evan Christensen, say the safety measures would do more harm than good.

Eight people died on quad bikes in 2019 and that number had risen to 23 recorded in 2020, according to Safe Work Australia.

Both the National Farmers Federation and the Rural Doctors Association have gone on record to support the safety measures.

The NFF said quad bikes were essential tools for many farmers but unless the death and injury toll was cut they could be outlawed or become prohibitive to insure or legally too risky to use.

STQBIA founder Craig Hartley said the legislation would see major manufacturers including Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Canam and Polaris withdraw from the Australian market in October.

Mr Hartley said a petition had been signed by 26,000 farmers whose farming enterprises would be seriously affected as well as agricultural contractors, more than 400 motorcycle dealers who said they could lose up to 70 per cent of sales revenue and manufacturers who would have to downsize warehouses and staff across Australia.

"Farmers are still basically panic buying quad bikes as they realise their most used machine on the farm will not be available after October 10," Mr Hartley said.

"Reasons for calling for a hold on the legislation are many and varied and starts with there being well in excess of 6000 presold quad bikes that have been delayed in getting to Australia due to Covid."

Tarome crop and grazing farmer Evan Christensen said the decision had been "wrong at every level".

"They didn't consult farmers on this and they are trying to take away equipment we really need," he said.

'Most of the issue is to do with kids under 16 or people on drugs and alcohol. The accidents happen when quad bikes are not used the right way.

"More education about safety issues would be the better answer.

"Now all the big names are not going to be selling quad bikes here, so we will have much less choice and we'll have these silly rollover bars that aren't going to help anyone.

"Ride under a tree with one of those things on and you'll do more damage to yourself than anything else."

Mr Hartley said all warranties for presold quad bikes had to be lodged by October 10, causing problems around stock still in transit.

He said motorcycle dealers had tens of thousands of dollars of accessories ordered for the presold quad bikes and if the quads did not arrive in time dealers will be financially burdened with unsaleable stock.

"This and a drop of more than 40 per cent on there sales turnover ... will see many rural businesses forced to close their doors, which will be another slug to farmers as they lose valuable service providers across rural Australia," he said.

"Many farmers are saying they can not survive without quad bikes on the farm and that the SSV buggies, even though useful for many applications are just to large and cumbersome for most cattle work.

"Even the SSV buggy has proven to be dangerous as people will not wear seat belts, so will these be the next target by the government? All of these issues for safety are people problems and not the actual machines.

"Minister Michael Sukkar signed the legislation and only he can correct it. He has the power to redirect this badly informed legislation that will create hardship on farms as well as creating unemployment and business closures throughout rural Australia."