Coulton refuses to roll over on America's quad bike safety squabble

Quad bike safety: Mark Coulton believes American trade issue could have more to do with law


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TRADE ISSUES: Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School student Sam Maunder at the launch of the state government quad bike safety campaign in Tamworth in June. Photo: Gareth Gardner 030619GGA08

TRADE ISSUES: Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School student Sam Maunder at the launch of the state government quad bike safety campaign in Tamworth in June. Photo: Gareth Gardner 030619GGA08

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The quad bike safety spat has more to do with law than trade says Mark Coulton.

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AMERICA'S spat over a mandatory quad bike safety feature could have more to do with the law than with trade in Assistant Minister for Trade Mark Coulton's opinion.

A quad bike safety campaign launched in Tamworth has been delivered a blow, as the United States takes the nation to the World Trade Organisation over mandatory rollover bars.

It argues compulsory rollover bars would be a trade barrier, and Japanese brands Yamaha and Honda have threatened to pull their quad bikes off the market.

I know that you can't legislate for poor behaviour but I think this is far too important an issue to put in the too hard basket. - Mark Coulton

"The United States has had a number of quad bike deaths and there's a feeling that an admittance by the manufacturers that a rollover bar needs to be fitted might be about the legal aspects of the situation," Mr Coulton said.

"I don't think the roll bars will save all quad bike deaths, but it's not the inconvenience some have made out either.

"I know that you can't legislate for poor behaviour but I think this is far too important an issue to put in the too hard basket."

Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson, launched the $2 million statewide safety campaign Quad Bikes Cost Lives, but declined to comment on the developments.

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In eight years from 2011 to 2018, 128 people died as a result of quad bike accidents in Australia.

The referral to the WTO could significantly delay a recommendation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for a mandatory safety standard.

The decision ultimately lies with the Assistant Treasurer under Australian Consumer Law.

The hold up poses issues for farmer safety, but also for quad bike dealers in Australia, Mr Coulton said.

"The roll bars could be retrofitted in Australia so it shouldn't be an impediment on bringing machines into the country," he said.

"I'm more concerned about the effect on dealers, there's brands other than Yamaha and Honda that are good machines and well-known to the market.

"I wouldn't like to see dealers in the bush have their viability impacted by a changes of rules, so I'm keen to do this correctly even if they do go through with the threat not to export to Australia."

Rollover protection devices are mounted on the back of quad bikes to help stop the vehicle from rolling onto the rider.

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