If you thought this round of changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law were the last for some time, you are going to be disappointed. The National Transport Commission (NTC) Chief Executive Paul Retter said this week he expects to draft a whole new Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) after the Commission completes its review of the existing law.
“Since May 2018, we have heard a lot from industry about the government not being prepared to make wholesale change to the law. Based on our discussions with governments, I am firmly of the view that this is not correct,” Mr Retter said.
“The HVNL, in its current form, does not reflect best practice. We understand that it is onerous for industry and the regulator, falls short of being truly national and is overly prescriptive and complicated,” he said.
According to NTC, the review of the HVNL will be a back-to-basics review which is expected to result in an entirely new performance-based law that is fit for purpose.
Transport law expert and Partner at Holding Redlich, Nathan Cecil – CoR Adviser’s Editor-in-Chief, said: “Given the length of time that it has taken various supply chain and logistics sectors to start to come to grips with the 1 October 2018 changes to the safety aspects of the HVNL, many will be disheartened if there is to be any further substantial change to the HVNL in this area.
“However, changes to other aspects of the law relating to access and vehicle performance and approval would be universally welcomed by all sectors,” he said.
Mr Retter said the NTC was best placed to undertake the review as it was not beholden to any particular jurisdiction. He said NTC will work with all governments and a large number of industry stakeholders and other experts across Australia during the 2018 review.
“The NTC was established by Australian governments to undertake exactly this type of national transport reform. We understand the law, its limitations and frustrations.”
According to Mr Retter, the NTC has been consulting widely with industry, road organisations, jurisdictions, fatigue and technology experts, and key legislative professionals. Detailed discussions have occurred between the NTC, the ATA, NatRoad, ALRTA, road transport organisations in each state and territory, safety bodies, and governments.
Mr Retter said the NTC was currently setting up working groups for the key priority areas of safe and efficient access, enhanced fatigue management, accreditation for safer operations, and telematics, technology and data.
He added that consultation with industry would happen in rural and regional centres as well as urban areas to ensure the views of heavy vehicle operators across the country are taken into account when drafting replacement legislation.
“The 2018 review and subsequent proposed legislation will acknowledge that one size doesn’t fit all across this vast country. Taking a performance-based approach to the HVNL, rather than a prescriptive approach, will deliver streamlined legislation without compromising on safety.”
The NTC says it will finalise the terms of reference for the review in the next few months for approval by the Transport Infrastructure Council.
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