National Farm Safety Week

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (12:41): I rise to support the motion by the member for Heysen:

That this house—

(a) notes that National Farm Safety Week was held from 16 to 22 July, raising awareness of farm safety issues across Australia, including South Australia;

(b) recognises this year's theme as being 'innovative, safe and healthy'; and

(c) acknowledges the united effort across the nation to reduce the deaths and injuries associated with health and safety risks on farms.

In its 20th year, National Farm Safety Week was held across the country last week. This year's theme was 'innovative, safe and healthy'. I certainly think that that is the key, as you, as a longstanding farmer on Eyre Peninsula in the seat of Flinders, would well understand, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Farm safety is a very significant matter. We have heard about the different statistics: 20 per cent or 27 per cent of deaths in industry are attributed to agriculture. We have today heard why some of those deaths happen. Sometimes it is just because you are a long way from help and are on your own.

You do not have to be on a far-flung station or property to have that happen. You could be on a property in any of our regional electorates and have just told your family, 'I am going down to do some sheep work,' out the back of the block or on another block, or you are going down to do some seeding or spraying. You could even be doing something with harvesting and operating on your own, although these days a lot of the time you are backed up with people operating chaser bins and have the freight people working around you as well.

I think in some of the accidents that have been highlighted and instances of what can happen, it is sometimes hard to get common sense regarding the regulation. I know we need it, but there are times when it does make it difficult just to operate machinery. I note the member for Finniss' comments about four-wheel quad bikes. I am the owner of a couple of those. I have a Yamaha 660 myself, and it weighs somewhere between 400 and 450 kilos, so it is substantially heavier than I am. It is a beast. and you need to understand how it operates.

Twice I have had to save myself with a motorbike coming over but aware of what could happen—just stick your right leg up and put it back on its wheels. It is a scary enough situation, but you have to be aware. Once I was trying to catch up with a stray dog that was not taking my commands too well and was heading towards the highway. I probably risked everything trying to pull him up and I fell off the motorbike. So, you do have to be aware, and that is one factor in what happens.

I note what the member for Finniss said. Many studies have been done with regard to quad bikes and trying to make them safer. There are far too many deaths: one death is too many, but too many deaths are attributed to quad bikes. They have looked at putting add-on technology like Lifebuoy and other rollover protection structures. I think the Lifebuoy is one that will flex, supposedly, if you go underneath it, but it can have adverse effects as well.

Two-wheel motorbikes also can be an issue on the land. Not so much these days, but in some of the pastoral country and inland country as well people still use horses. I remember my father, who was farming from 1933 onwards, could recount too many stories of people who came off horses and got hooked up in the stirrups and there was no way out—they just got dragged to their death.

With all machinery, and with operating any machinery, you have to be absolutely careful. I know that these days modern harvesters have a lot more tricks on them than when I was farming, but even with the old 1680 case rotary that I had when I was farming you could not put the machine into gear to operate it unless you were sitting on the seat. That certainly saved issues of putting it into gear and then, on your own, getting out the front watching the machine work, when you could get pulled into the front and into the machine and suffer terrible injuries or death.

Certainly power take-off shafts are another one. Sometimes people are weary—many people working for themselves or workers on the land working long hours—and forget, and power take-off shafts at the very least can possibly strip you naked if you get caught in one. They are operating, when going at full noise, at 540 to 1,000 revs per minute, and you are lucky if you get out with just having your clothes stripped off.

There have been too many times when people who, for whatever reason, have been caught up in these shafts; their clothes get caught in the elbow joints, they get flung around and have quite an horrendous death. I remember one harvest yelling out to a mate who did not seem to be aware of what was going on as we were unloading grain into a bin. I was on top of the bin and I was just screaming at him to get away from the power take-off shaft between the tractor and power take-off harvester that we had at the time.

Certainly with tractors and front-end loaders especially—and some of the deaths talked about today by other members involved front-end loaders—they are a machine, obviously, because they are a front-end loader, you can lift stuff up high, and your standard front-end loader you can still lift up stuff three or four metres, but then you get these high lift, manitose-style loaders where you can lift many metres into the air.

I have heard of some lucky escapes, but I am also aware of deaths, sadly too close to home, where people have been carting hay with even standard front-end loader tractors and loading the hay into a shed, on a truck or just coming across a paddock and not having the loader at the right height. For whatever reason, a round bale comes over the top of the loader, and guess where it goes next: it goes on to the person operating the tractor, and sometimes people have had very lucky escapes because they have had a roll-over protection structure on there, if it has been an open-air tractor, or they have a cab on there.

A good friend of mine from out in the Mallee had a very, very lucky escape but did suffer some ongoing injuries. The bale did not quite crush him on the tractor. There have been new regulations around rollover protection structures. I had to fit one to my tractor. There are different rules for whether you are an owner/operator or whether you have workmen or others operating your machines as well.

There are many ways you can get hurt. For instance, I have fallen in the box. I was not really operating my harvester, but I was changing the oils on it after I bought it and I fell in the box while I was showing my 18-month-old son—not that he remembers me showing him how the header operated. I sat on the edge of the box and forgot that the top few inches of the box was a loose flap that folded in and I tore my arm open and needed 22 stitches. I was lucky it was only my arm.

I want to talk about the innovations and what is helping as far as accidents go. It is about getting more mobile phone towers out, and I am certainly proud to say that on this side of the house, the Liberal Party is committed to getting more communication right across the country, with a $10 million policy as well as other regional policies, to make sure that we can make the regions a safer place to operate so that you have more of a chance, especially if you are on your own and you fall off that bike or roll that ute or whatever other issue happens, to seek help, as long as you can move your arm to reach into your pocket for your phone and ring 000.

The former Labor government failed at that, but we are certainly keen to promote that. I certainly support the motion of the member for Heysen. May we all keep working for better farm safety outcomes into the future.