Risk-based regulation gets backing for HVNL reform

Stakeholders back broad regulatory change in submissions to NTC

Risk-based regulation gets backing for HVNL reform
The trucking industry wants huge HVNL changes


Risk-based regulation is the preferred future for the trucking industry, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) tells the National Transport Commission (NTC) in a point echoed by industry and company submissions.

The NHVR is responding to the NTC’s Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) reform review issues paper on the subject.


In its submission covering letter, CEO Sal Pettroccito argues that "efficiencies will be delivered by moving from a prescriptive approach which has high costs to an assurance and risk-based approach".

The NHVR notes that the largest areas of complaint from industry relate to "prescriptive fatigue regulations that don't necessarily deliver the required safety outcomes", and a "slow and cumbersome access decision making process that doesn't recognise the benefits of safer and more productive vehicles".

While agreeing broadly with issues paper’s thrust, the NHVR promotes five principles and priority "outcomes" that will allow a reformed national law to be or provide for:

  • simplified, easy to understand and harmonised
  • agile and responsive in meeting industry’s needs
  • an outcome rather than prescriptive focus approach
  • risk-based, data and intelligence-led regulator
  • promote productivity and certainty with an improved and modern access regime.

It seeks a greater use of technology beyond just compliance.

"To achieve gains, industry must see the benefits of technology and how its use will translate into safety and productivity improvements in their business, such as increased network access outcomes and sharing of information back to reduced regulatory burdens," the submission says.

It also looks to a partnership for collection, sharing and use of data and accepts that this "will require a shift away from prescriptive and administrative focused sanction approach to one that addresses key safety goals".

Though the current law is viewed as "prescriptive and restrictive", thus hampering its safety mission, the NHVR wants examined whether "it is appropriate for all heavy vehicles 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass (GVM) and above to be treated as a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle".

"In addition, the current heavy vehicle licensing regime should be considered during the review and how driver competency can be harmonised, measured and maintained effectively and consistently across the country, moving away from the agreed time-based prescriptive approach," the submission says.

Ron Finemore Transport

Ron Finemore,executive chairman of Ron Finemore Transport (RFT) and a noted safety advocate, also backs Risk-based regulation, saying the new law must reward the good operators and "target high risk offenders".

He quotes federal Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan, at the November 2017 to the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) National Congress, as saying "many regulators administer systems for the very last worst person – which in turn imposes burdens on those who want to the do the right thing. It causes the majority of people to have a more expensive, time consuming and a painful experience."

"This is how I and most operators see the current HVNL – sadly, instead of targeting the high-risk offenders whilst rewarding those who try and do the right thing, the opposite occurs," Finemore says.

He wants recognition of new technology’s role in aiding safety and removal of obstacles to the use of modern high-productivity vehicles laid through an "access system "based on old values and politically motivated mode or road protection concepts".

He casts the Performance Based Standards (PBS) system as "a major inhibitor to efficiency".


The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) submission, which Finemore backs, makes the case for consistency under the national law, "both in its geographic reach and between the participating jurisdictions".

This occurs nationally and within states.

It holds up as an example the use by New South Wales Police of a penalty notice for "a non-existent offence" related to a bug deflector that was recognised as lawful by the state’s Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).

Read how the HVNL reform process was engaged with by industry, here

The rigidity and unresponsiveness of the present system, particularly related to the Intelligent Access Program (IAP), drew huge heat from NatRoad’s membership.

"Two main issues were that IAP does not deliver first and last mile access and the IAP approach is more about asset protection than it is about providing greater productivity gains for the industry," the submission states.

"In that regard it is seen as too expensive with technology that is imposed for little benefit.

"It is an example of technology not being market driven and therefore a scheme which has failed."

The NTC issues paper asks respondents to identify what the present HVNL does will and should be retained.

After consultation with members, the response was: "Not one item of the law in its present form was considered worthy of retention."

On the question of how the new HVNL can help to improve safety, productivity and regulatory efficiency, NatRoad has three recommendations:

  • the legislation should be modelled to the extent possible on the harmonised WHS law
  • a new enforcement regime with an initial independent review system of offences must be introduced.
  • those who enforce the law, including the Police, must have passed an education course.


You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook