Ferry driver charged with drink-driving

A 69-YEAR-OLD casual driver of Ballina’s Burns Point Ferry has been charged with high-range drink-driving while operating the ferry.

Police were called to the ferry about 8.30pm on Saturday after a member of the public raised concerns about the driver.

“Around 8.30pm on Saturday, October 31, police were alerted to the Burns Point Ferry by a member of the public,” Richmond Local Area Command crime prevention officer, Senior Constable Michael Hogan, said.

“They were concerned with the welfare of the driver of the ferry.

“They (the police) subjected him to a breath test (and) he failed the breath test,” Snr Const Hogan said.

“He was then arrested and taken to Ballina police station.

“He was charged with high-range PCA (prescribed concentration of alcohol).”

The man, from West Ballina, was granted bail and is due to face court on Thursday, November 19.

Ballina Shire Council general manager, Paul Hickey, said the council was responding to a request from police to provide CCTV footage of the incident and other information.

More than 750 vehicles use the Burns Point Ferry every day.

However, Mr Hickey said it was not known how many people used the ferry during the time of the alleged incident.

“That information is not required to determine the council’s response to this incident,” he said.

“Council was able to immediately supply a staff member to resume the ferry service following the incident.”

The charged man had been contracted on a casual basis through a labour hire company to fill in for an employee who was on leave.

The council has four staff members permanently assigned to the ferry’s operation.

However, Mr Hickey said additional casual contractors were needed to cover extended periods of leave.

“That person was a casual, not an employee,” Mr Hickey said.

“We have terminated that contract and we are talking to the labour hire company about that.

“We will no longer use that person as a casual.”

Mr Hickey said the council’s occupational health and safety arrangements, including its drug and alcohol policy, applied to ‘staff and contractors alike’.

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