Hopes of reaching a consensus on a new quad bike safety regime have been dashed following the resignation of the manufacturer's representatives from a Federal Government advisory committee.
"The deck was stacked, and not in our favour," said Scott Kebschull, a US vehicle expert nominated by quad bike manufacturers to be on the panel.
The body representing manufacturers, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), and Mr Kebschull were appointed to a technical reference group to advise government on the best way to introduce a quad bike safety rating system.
They have now both resigned in protest after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) proposed major changes to improve quad bike safety, including a star-rating system, crush protection devices and mandatory minimum performance standards.
"The ACCC has reached a conclusion in advance, they've made up their minds and are not open to considering other points of view," Mr Kebschull told ABC television. The FCAI said the ACCC proposal amounted to "experimenting with the public" and could do more harm than good.
The ACCC says the manufacturers' organisation has long resisted any regulatory intervention. "The ACCC is carefully considering every submission, including from the FCAI and manufacturers," a spokesperson said. "We are also meeting again directly with quad bike manufacturers to further consult on proposed changes."
The proposed safety star-rating system for quad bikes was largely based on work done by researchers at the University of New South Wales' Transport And Road Safety Unit (TARS).
But the FCAI argues the research is flawed, and accuses the ACCC of "a biased process" because it funds part of the work.
"It seems to be a conflict of interest for a government agency to fund a third party to perform a task, then be the adjudicator of the quality and suitability of that work," the FCAI said in its response to the ACCC's quad bike safety consultation regulation impact statement.
The researcher who headed the TARS team, Professor Raphael Grzebieta, said criticism of the work is "absolute rubbish".
"We have studied coronial data. We've done the survey of 1,500-odd riders out in the real world that have experienced 1,400 crashes," Professor Grzebieta said.
He accused the FCAI of delaying tactics. "I'm convinced they're merchants of doubt, that's the whole idea," he said.
(From ABC News - 7 May 2018)