Adjournment: Horse-drawn vehicles | Sue Pennicuik

Adjournment: Horse-drawn vehicles

In terms of this issue, it is essential for public safety and for the safety and welfare of horses that horse-drawn vehicles are no longer allowed to operate inside the Hoddle grid, and I ask that the Minister for Roads take action to disallow that.
Thursday, September 21, 2017 - 10:15am
Sue Pennicuik

Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, and the action I ask of him is that he disallow horse-drawn vehicles as a class of vehicle inside the Hoddle grid.

The City of Melbourne chose not to renew street trading permits for horse-drawn vehicles from 1 July this year. This followed consultation with horse-drawn vehicle operators, the RSPCA, users of the carriages, Victoria Police and VicRoads. The city found that it was extremely difficult to regulate horse-drawn vehicle behaviour through its local laws and that, with the metro rail tunnel construction beginning, Swanston Street and the Hoddle grid are not safe for the continued operation of horse-drawn vehicles.

Greens councillor Rohan Leppert has said:

I support these findings and believe that the central city is no place for horses, especially where it has been found that welfare standards and road rules are all but impossible to enforce through … local law …

I never want to see again what we saw in July 2015 when a horse ran its head through a tram window.

The world's busiest tram route is just no place for horses.

But there is an important role for the state government here, especially since 1 July.

There are a few horse-drawn vehicle operators still using Swanston Street, and a few still conducting street trading in the central city, in contravention of the City of Melbourne Activities Local Law.

But City of Melbourne enforcement officers are not permitted to stop or approach drivers of moving vehicles — only Victoria Police can do that.

The state government needs to step in and use its powers — which the City of Melbourne cannot — to make the central city safer for all people, and remove horse-drawn vehicle operations from the world's busiest tram route …

I say that this is essential for the safety and welfare of horses as well.

The mayor, Robert Doyle, has said:

It's no longer appropriate for the horse-drawn vehicles to operate in their current location on Swanston Street. This civic spine should be primarily used for cyclists, trams and delivery vehicles. The impact of the Metro Tunnel works makes this change necessary now.

The RSPCA Victoria has also said it:

… has long held concerns for the welfare of … carriage horses in this notoriously busy and congested environment.

The RSPCA said it has:

… been working with the City of Melbourne to address animal welfare concerns and recently worked with its animal management team to upskill them on good horse welfare practices …

In terms of this issue, it is essential for public safety and for the safety and welfare of horses that horse-drawn vehicles are no longer allowed to operate inside the Hoddle grid, and I ask that the minister for roads take action to disallow that.

REPLY on 31 October 2017:

I note that Council has made a determination in relation to street trading permits for horse drawn vehicles, and this is a fitting action to take if Council has determined that it is not appropriate for trade to continue.

As the coordinating road authority for all municipal roads in the City of Melbourne, Council is also able to exercise greater control over horse drawn vehicles through access restrictions and prohibition. Schedule 11 to the Local Government Act 1989 includes powers to move, remove and impound vehicles, power to restrict traffic, and power to restrict road use by vehicles of a particular size.

Horse drawn vehicles are considered to be vehicles under the Road Safety Act 1986, consistent with the Australian Road Rules. There are currently no plans to amend the legislation as this is a local not a statewide matter.