Ray and Lynne Friis with there caravan at Wellington Point, south-east of Brisbane. Picture: Picture: AAP Image/Steve Pohlner
Ray and Lynne Friis with there caravan at Wellington Point, south-east of Brisbane. Picture: Picture: AAP Image/Steve Pohlner

4WD towing laws to be toughened

TOUGH new laws to be introduced by the Palaszczuk Government will stop upgrades to 4WD vehicles to allow them to tow larger caravans, boats, horse floats and work toolbox trailers. The new laws mean any Queensland driver wanting to buy a caravan will probably need to buy a new vehicle as well.

Under the proposed new codes, to come into effect in two weeks, the towing capacity of 4WD vehicles will not be able to be upgraded after purchase.

Queenslanders who need an increased carrying or towing capacity will be forced to buy large, powerful, expensive and fuel-inefficient imported utes and trucks.

The popular Toyota LandCruiser is among the 4WDs to be affected.
The popular Toyota LandCruiser is among the 4WDs to be affected.

The upgrades - such as improved suspension and shock absorbers - provide a more stable, safer ride and quicker stopping, while increasing towing capacity.

The weight of accessories such as water tanks, extended fuel tanks, bull bars and winches force many vehicles over their legal weight limit, which also makes upgrades necessary.

Vehicles operated in excess of their legal carrying capacity are declared unsafe and are not covered by insurance.

The ban will mean that many caravaners will be lucky to fit two people and a full load of fuel into their vehicles before they are over the legal towing limit.

Transport Minister Mark Bailey, despite repeated requests, has not told peak industry bodies why the Government is proceeding with the new laws.

The vehicles most affected include the most popular 4WDs on the market, including the Toyota LandCruiser, Toyota Hilux, Nissan Patrol, Ford Ranger, and Isuzu D Max.

The new laws will affect up to a million 4WD drivers and 200,000 "grey nomads''. Queensland is home to eight of the top 10 caravan ownership postcodes in Australia, at Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Toowoomba, Mackay, Gympie, Gladstone, Maryborough and the Sunshine Coast.

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Caravan industry bosses say it's the most nonsensical legislation they have ever seen. NSW and Victorian drivers will be able to tow caravans in Queensland without being subjected to the same laws as Queenslanders.

The new code will prevent the same modifications undertaken to meet specifications required by Queensland's police and the State Emergency Services.

Australian Caravan Club treasurer Graeme Tree yesterday said the ban meant any Queensland driver wanting to buy a caravan would probably need to buy a new vehicle as well.

"If this was about safety, it would apply to all vehicles on the road," Mr Tree said.

"But these are modifications that are fitted to Queensland police, emergency services, fire and parks vehicles to increase safety in towing.

"They are already on thousands of private vehicles in Queensland and are perfectly legal in other states.

"These are upgrades that will still be allowed to be fitted here in Queensland to new vehicles on the showroom floor. But once it's on the road, it's banned. It just doesn't make sense."

Mr Tree said the proposed changes to Vehicle Codes LS11 and LS15 would decrease safety on Queensland roads and unwittingly put drivers of 4WDs in breach of their insurance.

"Modifications to most 4WD vehicles are essential for legal towing, so from September 4, most Queenslanders buying a caravan will also need to buy a new vehicle," he said.

"It is inconceivable that Queensland would stop people improving the safety of their towing vehicle when the modifications are allowed under federal laws and before registration in Queensland."

Despite repeated requests, Transport Minister Mark Bailey has not told peak industry bodies why the Government is proceeding with the new laws. Picture: AAP/Glenn Hunt
Despite repeated requests, Transport Minister Mark Bailey has not told peak industry bodies why the Government is proceeding with the new laws. Picture: AAP/Glenn Hunt

Australia's leading manufacturer of the towing upgrade equipment, Lovells, says the draft codes will have a major impact on current towing practice and will lead to higher vehicle costs.

Lovells chief executive Simon Crane said the usable payload of many 4x4 vehicles today was minimal. Additional basic optional equipment and two or three adult occupants would bring the vehicle close to its legal maximum weight.

Add long range fuel tanks, bull bars, winches, side steps, roof racks, recovery gear, a payload of camping equipment or tool boxes, or an industrial-type custom body, and the vehicle may exceed the allowable weight.

Mr Crane called on Mr Bailey to explain the proposed regulation changes - and to delay the planned introduction.

"This is a change that has been dreamed up by bureaucrats without consultation or explanation," he said.

"It makes no contribution to safety and is actually counter-productive.''

Mr Bailey has not responded to requests for meetings with the 4WD industry stakeholders.

A spokesman for Mr Bailey said it was a complex issue and he was unable to give a comment.

 

Ray and Lynne Friis with their caravan at Wellington Point. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner
Ray and Lynne Friis with their caravan at Wellington Point. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner

'REVENUE RAISING' THROWS ROAD TRIP PLANS INTO DISARRAY

 

WHEN Wellington Point couple Ray and Lynne Friis retired, they decided to buy a caravan and travel Australia.

Little did they know their plans would be thrown into disarray by new State Government laws which effectively mean they will have to buy a larger vehicle to tow their caravan.

"I feel let down,'' Mrs Friis said yesterday. "It almost feels as if this government is targeting grey nomads. We saw the new motor home stamp duty go up recently and now this. It's definitely about revenue raising. If it was about safety why do they allow the emergency services vehicles to be upgraded?''

The peak industry body for caravans has tried unsuccessfully to seek an explanation as to why the Government is going down this path.

Mrs Friis said the new law was "silly". "It means if we want to buy a bigger caravan we can't,'' she said.

"We have worked hard all our lives to enjoy our retirement and travelling with the caravan is a big part of that. Now we are hit with these extra charges to make sure we can tow. It makes no sense whatsoever. The thing is we haven't even been told why they are doing it."

Mrs Friis said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk should reconsider the new law.

"I would say to her, please listen to the consumer," she said. "We are being targeted and it's not fair.''



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