Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has recently indicated it was intending to step up its regulation of the livestock transport sector. A targeted operation by the agency in the Manawatu was evidence to the Road Transport Forum (RTF) that we needed to engage with NZTA on a range of issues and pressures felt uniquely by operators in this sector. We are concerned that their intended approach could be too punitive and would lack perspective without a total picture of the chain of responsibility and the expectations and conflicting rules of other regulators/customers that also cut across the work of this sector.

NZTA’s new “portfolio” approach to its regulatory responsibilities has seen them respond positively to our invitation for RTF and the regulators with responsibilities in livestock transport to meet. RTF will meet with NZTA, Worksafe, Ministry of Primary Industries and Commercial Vehicle Safety (Police) on 27 April in Wellington. Our intention is that this meeting will be the beginning of painting a cross sector picture of the reality faced by livestock operators and we intend to place key issues faced by livestock operators in front of the meeting. There will then be a wider meeting with the organisations that represent the livestock customer base, RTF and the regulators.

We believe it is timely to introduce a discussion about the key pressures in the chain of responsibility, with the second wider meeting with representatives of key industry customers and regulators intended to consider these issues. Our view is that the industry cannot be held to unfair account for problems and pressures that begin elsewhere in the chain, eg. on the farm. With animal welfare being at the forefront of public opinion, the importance of livestock transport being able to lawfully operate with good cross regulator and customer understanding, is paramount.

Please feed into your local committees or area executives with any major issues you feel need to be raised by us at this or any subsequent meetings.

There is often an expectation that a single meeting can produce a miraculous result on challenges that have been around for a number of years. In this instance (and most others) that would be an unfair expectation, however we expect these efforts to be positive for operators over time and we will report back to the sector when progress is made.