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Farmers given a break

Andrew Haack with the 80-year-old grid preventing his few hundred droughtmaster cattle getting on to the Bruce Highway. Gympie Regional Council has elected to keep insurance cover the same, resisting advice to double it.
Andrew Haack with the 80-year-old grid preventing his few hundred droughtmaster cattle getting on to the Bruce Highway. Gympie Regional Council has elected to keep insurance cover the same, resisting advice to double it. Renee Pilcher

GYMPIE region farmers who own licensed gates or grids on public roads have been spared a 100% hike in their public-liability insurance.

Gympie Regional Council opted to leave the insurance coverage of privately-owned grids at $10 million for 2012/2013, despite advice from its staff that it should be double that.

Property owners have been required to insure against public liability - at a cost of $400-500 a year per grid or gate - since 2006/2007.

According to the council's Permanent Users of Council Facility policy, however, the grids and gates pose a "medium" level of risk to the public, not a "low" one, and should be insured for $20 million.

Debate on abandoning the blanket approach to the region's 1000-plus grids and gates led to a decision to keep the public liability at $10 million.

Cr Ian Petersen said the blanket approach was unfair because some grids posed a far smaller safety risk than others.

He cited the 7m-wide grid on Reynolds Rd at Chatsworth as an example of a grid that had existed mishap-free for half a century.

"If (public liability) goes to $20 million it's going to cost them another $600 a year," he said.

"It's just putting money in the pockets of the insurance companies.

"I think there needs to be some flexibility. One size does not fit all."

But assessing each gate and grid for its risk level would cost too much time and money, he was told.

The owners of the Reynolds Rd grid, the Allen family, said yesterday their family had run a dairy farm there 50 years ago, which supplied half of Gympie's milk.

"There were constantly milk trucks and milk tankers and grain trucks coming in over that grid," they said.

Topics:  farmers gympie regional council ian petersen insurance

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