The Heavy Vehicle National Law will be replaced with an “entirely new law” that is fully harmonised, risk based, and less prescriptive, the National Transport Commission (NTC) has confirmed.
In announcing a review of the HVNL last year, NTC Chief Executive Paul Retter, said the current law did not reflect best practice, was onerous for industry and the regulator, fell short of being truly national, and was overly prescriptive and complicated.
In January, the NTC suggested that a a risk-based approach to fatigue management could be included in a new version of the law, and that it was currently poorly designed to accommodate new business models, digital technologies and data (see related article).
And now, the NTC has announced that through consultation with industry and regulators, its review has uncovered “several high-level problems” with the current law. It is calling for feedback on its issues paper until 31 May 2019.
Problems with the current law as outlined in the issues paper:
- The HVNL is not nationally consistent: it has not been implemented in Western Australia or the Northern Territory, and every participating jurisdiction has derogated from the HVNL.
- The HVNL is prescriptive and inflexible: the primary legislation contains a great deal of detail; and focuses on inputs rather than outcomes.
- The HVNL fails to adapt to the many diverse heavy vehicle uses, domains and operators.
- The HVNL is not risk-based or proportionate: many risks are opaque or out of the scope of the law, making true risk management challenging.
- Administration, compliance and enforcement of the HVNL are all difficult.
- The HVNL has not fully delivered on its original goals: regulatory burdens remain high; productivity gains are mixed; and we must strive to accelerate improvements in safety outcomes.
Also in transport, the Federal Government has announced it will establish an Office of Road Safety and will work with state and local governments to support greater national consistency in the delivery of road safety initiatives. This includes an additional $2.2 billion in funding to improve road safety infrastructure and heavy vehicle safety.
Safety Institute of Australia CEO David Clarke welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement, and thanked the Australian Logistics Council’s (ALC) advocacy work through its recommendations in their pre-Budget submission to the Federal Government.
“Road safety is an ongoing and important part of the national workplace health and safety equation, and we work with organisations as a member of the National Road Safety Partnership Program, to support this work. We also support the good work of the ALC on product stewardship and supply chain safety.”
Mr Clarke said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham was correct in his assessment that a coherent, nationally consistent approach to road safety was an important step in providing certainty for freight logistics organisations that operate in multiple states and territories.
“There’s a lot that the Commonwealth can do to show more national leadership in health and safety, and give national businesses greater clarity as they work across state and territory boundaries. This has been an increasing concern over time. Initiatives of this nature are a good start.”