NTC transport reform monitoring report released

South Australia receives strongest criticism on HVNL alterations

NTC transport reform monitoring report released
Paul Retter says there is more consistency now


The 2011 regulatory reform effort that created the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) will not be complete for 18 months, the National Transport Commission (NTC) has told its political masters.

However, there is just one item outstanding, the start of chapter 2 of the HVNL, and everything else on that agenda has been done.

That is one of the headline findings of the NTC’s annual National Transport Reform Implementation Report to the Transport and Infrastructure Council that "provides an independent assessment on how well nationally agreed transport reforms are being implemented".

"These reforms ensure Australia has more consistent and easy to understand laws and regulations that help improve our national productivity and keep people safe on our roads and rail networks," NTC chief executive Paul Retter says.

That said, Western Australia and the Northern Territory still remain outside what aims to be a national system.

And the remaining five states have adjusted, subtracted or added to the HVNL in their jurisdictions to suit their circumstances – these are described as "derogations".

Of the 35 derogations, there were:

  • 15 were enforcement-related
  • nine fatigue-related
  • six vehicle standards-related
  • three mass, loading and dimensions-related
  • two speed-related.

In implementing these derogations:

  • 27 were additional sections added to the national law by the adopting jurisdiction
  • three were alterations of existing sections or chapters of the national law
  • four were omissions of sections
  • one was a reference to clarify the interpretation of related legislation.

Of the participating jurisdictions:

  • New South Wales has implemented 16 derogations
  • South Australia 11
  • Queensland four
  • Victoria three
  • Tasmania one.

In addition to the identified derogations, the Australian Capital Territory reported that it will not proclaim chapters 5, 6, 7 or 8 of the HVNL until the NHVR has the systems in place to administer, monitor and enforce those parts of the HVNL. "As such, these are not technically derogations," the report says.

 Of the 16 NSW derogations four were described as ‘medium’ impact and the rest were ‘low’ – no state recorded a ‘high’ impact derogation.

The NSW medium impact items included:            

  • use of vehicle monitoring devices (VMDs) for heavy haulage and dangerous goods transport
  • allowing drivers to rest in an air-conditioned cabin and for concrete truck drivers to continue to churn concrete during a rest break
  • limited personal use of a vehicle on rest days
  • ministerial discretion on Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) accreditation.

South Australia’s derogations – six of which were medium impact – attracted the strongest NTC responses, for undermining national consistency or contravening natural justice or human and property rights.

They included:

  • expansion of chain of responsibility liability for mass, dimensions or load requirements to all parties
  • issuance of improvement notices before an offence occurs
  • exclude the requirement for enforcement officers to form a reasonable belief that evidence may be concealed or destroyed if a place is not immediately entered and searched, before they can enter without a warrant for investigation purposes
  • exclude the ‘reasonable steps’ defence for the offence of tampering with a speed limiter
  • reverse the onus of proof for a ‘reasonable excuse’ defence for offences against the HVNL
  • additional power for authorised officers to direct a heavy vehicle to move if it is obstructing a road, area adjacent to a road, a lawful event, or specified other areas.

While Queensland had only four derogations, two were judged medium impact as both materially change "the intent and operation of the HVNL by putting another layer of statutory consent requirements in place".

They were, additional consents required to grant a mass or dimension exemption permit and additional requirements for commissioners’ consents for a mass or dimensions exemption permit and creates new requirements on granting of permits.

The NTC is now working on delivering the reform recommendations on its current work program and would report on these in next year’s National Transport Reform Implementation Report.




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