COMMENT: Quad bike concern produces questions but no answers

NO ANSWERS: Agricultural sector grapples with the issue about how to best manage quad bikes in terms of safety.

NO ANSWERS: Agricultural sector grapples with the issue about how to best manage quad bikes in terms of safety.

AS a journalist I would be pleased to never report on a farming accident again.

Unfortunately the agricultural sector has too many deaths and injuries.

In recent times the use of quad bikes have made headlines for all the wrong reasons. And the statistics are alarming to say the least.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, 136 people have died in quad bike accidents over the past eight years. And of those accidents, 60 per cent of fatalities involved rollovers.

And while I will never profess to have answers to solve this complex issue, I do admit that quad bikes are a useful and necessary tool in the rural industry.

Looking back at history there was a time when our tractors didn't have rollover protection. But now they do.

It was back in 1982 that Australia introduced rollover protection for tractors. And even looking at a tractor now, be it vintage, or in an old photo, it is hard to comprehend one without being fitted with this device.

Rollover protection systems (for tractors) were initially developed in Sweden in the 1950s. The aim was to protect operators in the event of the tractor rolling over or flipping backwards.

But the issue for quad bikes is something different again. The farming community is divided. Manufacturers are pulling out of the market and confusion is rife. Issues like terrain and suitability of the quad bike to do the job need to be taken into account. The age and capability of operators must be considered too.

And while I never want to report on a quad bike fatality or injury again, there has to be a process for the industry to move forward.

Every tragic story leaves a trail of pain that this industry doesn't want to see or feel.

Stay safe and do what is necessary to reduce the toll.


THIS week I took a call from a landholder who said "rain will beat fertiliser."

He's right. There's nothing better than emptying out the gauge and seeing something meaningful.

A healthy pasture or lucerne crop not only provides money in the pocket it also gives a "feel good" kick that settles the spirit. Saying "the grass is greener on the other side" is something that is applicable to agriculture. It is an idiom that assumes we want something better than what we have.

But when it comes to grass we will always be looking over the fence and comparing paddock to paddock and district to district.