Hunters enter the fray over quad bike safety

A quad bike fitted with a roll bar.
A quad bike fitted with a roll bar.

Hunters have now entered the fray over the safety of quad bikes.

Federal Government legislation mandating roll-over safety bars in all new quad bikes from October next year could be the end of a vital piece of hunting and agricultural equipment in Australia, the country's pre-eminent shooting group says.

From October 2021, all quad bikes imported or sold new in Australia will, among other things, be required to have rollover bars installed, allegedly for safety reasons.

However, the four largest quad bike brands in Australia - Honda, Polaris, Suzuki, and Yamaha - have said they will cease selling their quad bikes in Australia once the regulations come into force from October 2021.

The hunters say the decision will severely limit the range available and potentially spelling the end of quad bikes as rural utility vehicles in Australia.

Meanwhile, the Rural Doctors Association of Association has accused quad bike manufacturers of not valuing the lives of Australian farmers.

RDAA president, Dr John Hall, said fitting operator protection devices will save lives and the Federal Government must hold the line on the new safety standards.

"OPDs absolutely save lives, and any debate around this issue is completely crazy," Dr Hall said.

Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park said quad bikes were essential equipment for hunters and farmers alike, and was deeply concerned at the lack of "on the ground" consultation carried out before the new regulations were introduced.

"I don't think the people making these laws realise just how big the Australian bush is, or how their well-meaning but poorly implemented regulations are going to affect hundreds of thousands of hunters and farmers," Mr Park said.

"Quad bikes are essential for travelling across rough terrain on large farms, and they also provide a stable and safe way to transport firearms in the field, particularly in areas where there are lots of game or pests and the shooter may need to be retrieving and replacing their gun frequently.

"Essentially removing them from the market is going to make it incredibly difficult for hunters, pest controllers and primary producers to do their jobs - not everyone can ride a motorbike and they're not always the right choice for the terrain, animals being pursued, or climate."

Mr Park said quad bikes were not inherently unsafe and Shooters Union had questions over the ACCC statistics justifying the new regulations.

"We do not believe their statistics take into account factors such as reckless behaviour, being driven by people under 16, or having extra passengers," Mr Park said.

"We join the calls for the Federal Government to re-evaluate these regulations and listen to the manufacturers, hunters and primary producers who know these machines and the environments they work in best."

The withdrawal of some major quad bike manufacturers, notably Honda and Yamaha, from the Australian market has sparked concern among farmers they will be left without the industry's most popular and reliable machines.

Dealers across the country are also worried they will lose one of their best sellers with Craig Hartley from Moto Dalby on Queensland's Darling Downs launching a Facebook page and petition to "save the quad bike" which has been signed by almost 20,000 people.

Mr Hartley is in disagreement with the Australian Medical Association and RDAA over the number of farmer fatalities on quad bikes, saying the real picture was being confused by deaths on side-by-sides along with recreational accidents.

Meanwhile, a 63-year-old Queensland farmer died in a quad bike accident near Stanthorpe on Sunday.

John Pratt was found by family members at the scene of the accident on Waghorn Road at 7.50pm.

He and wife Julie and family operated a sheep, cattle and stone fruit orchard.

This story Hunters enter the fray over quad bike safety first appeared on Katherine Times.