NTC releases draft heavy vehicle national law


ATA welcomes documents and consultation time

By Rob McKay | February 28, 2011

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has given the Federal Government the thumbs up for getting the Draft Heavy Vehicle National Law and Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) out for discussion sooner rather than later.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) released the documents this afternoon with a cover note detailing a litany of issues that they would not cover.

An ATA spokesman says the Government should be commended for getting it out as quickly, and giving the industry the 10 weeks of consultation it had sought to allow for the best and most comprehensive response possible.

This was preferable to having it seem perfect in government eyes and while leaving industry no time to properly formulate a response.

All documents relating to the draft law and the RIS had been circulated and the ATA’s response would be its highest priority in the coming months, the spokesman says.

Both NTC Chief Executive Nick Dimopoulos and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Project Board Chairman Menno Henneveld backed the new law, saying it would make doing business on Australian roads simpler and cheaper.

"Our analysis has found 368 variations in heavy vehicle laws across Australia," Dimopoulos says.

"While the majority of variations are minor technical issues, others concerning fatigue, vehicle standards and access are more significant.

"The release of the proposed law is a huge reform milestone for Australia, as it paves the way for a fairer system of law that will make it easier for the heavy vehicle industry to work across state and territory borders.

"It will also result in substantial savings with the cost benefit analysis estimating implementation of the new laws will deliver around $12.4 billion worth of savings over 20 years."

The NTC’s cover note was up-front on those areas the documents did not cover, saying that, while the NTC and the NHVR Project Office had worked with states and territories in their development, some issues remain unresolved.

"However, the NTC, NHVR Project Office and jurisdictions have agreed that the public release process should proceed, noting that jurisdictions will be making submissions and comment during the consultation phase in the interests of improving the national scheme," it says.

Those areas missing include charging, counting time and basic fatigue management, which were being addressed separately.

Others include: dangerous goods, driver licensing, charges

Compulsory third party insurance and concession; the Australian Road Rules; mass limits; penalties

While the draft national law does not yet include a list of demerit point offences, the national policy that demerit points will only be incurred by drivers found guilty by a court of a critical or severe risk breach of work and rest hour requirements will be retained.

Those areas needing further discussion included: fatigue; accreditations schemes; chain of responsibility; three-strikes policy; work diaries.

Matters resolved included: right of review; local productivity variations; access decision making.

The documents can be found at:

http://www.ntc.gov.au/RFCList.aspx?Mode=2004&AreaId=38

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