Plea for change to save lives
NOTHING will bring Dianne Turner's brother back but she believes there is plenty the government can do to prevent another motorist being killed in a collision with a cow.
Ms Turner is calling on the State Government to make farmers more accountable if their cattle roam onto the road and cause injury or death in a bid to stop another motorist from suffering the same fate as her late brother, Richard Cooper.
Mr Cooper, a Queensland Rail worker, was killed when his motorcycle and a cow collided on the Peak Downs Hwy on April 12 this year. Sadly, on August 10, another QR employee, Scott Stephenson, lost his life when his motorcycle and a cow collided on Armstrong Beach Rd.
Ms Turner said enough was enough and it was time the State Government changed an outdated law which generally prevents a person injured in a collision with livestock from recovering damages.
Her push to make farmers more accountable for their cattle has been backed by Mackay Road Accident Action Group (RAAG) road safety co-ordinator Graeme Ransley, who says criminal liability should also come into play.
"It's purely back to civil action but that seems not to be a real satisfactory result," he said. "There are too many cows on the road."
Mackay police receive complaints about cows on roads almost daily, while Mackay Regional Council receives an average three to four complaints a week.
Whitsunday Regional Council had 16 callouts to remove cattle from roads last financial year, while Isaac Regional Council gets about one complaint a month. Main Roads data shows there were 54 crashes involving stock in the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac region from 2005 to 2009.
Queensland still relies on an old common law rule (Searle v Wallbank) for animals straying onto the road or highway, whereby owners are usually immune from liability in negligence.
Ms Turner said the law was ridiculous and outdated and needed to be abolished.
Queensland Attorney General Paul Lucas said the government was looking at the issue. However, he said it wasn't possible to pass a law to make a farmer criminally liable and there was no known jurisdiction where anyone had stood to make a farmer criminally responsible.
"All the abolition in a rule would do is make them criminally liable for damage. That would not avoid the accident."
The RACQ's position is that although it's impractical to fence all of Queensland's pastoral holdings, motorists should have the ability to get compensation if negligence was proven a spokesman said.