The 2011 regulatory reform effort which included the creation of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) has been accomplished. The only item outstanding on that agenda, involves the implementation of the HVNL, all other items on the agenda have been done. This part of the agenda will not be complete for another 18 months, the National Transport Commission (NTC) has said.
The NTC made the announcement as part of the headline findings of its annual National Transport Reform Implementation Report to the Transport and Infrastructure Council.
The NTC’s chief executive Paul Retter explained,
“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,”
The Western Australia and Northern Territory have still not joined the national system.
The other five states have made changes to the HVNL in their individual jurisdictions to suit themselves. These are described as “derogations”.
Of the 35 derogations 15 were related to enforcement and 9 related to fatigue. There were also 6 vehicle standards related derogations and 3 related to mass, loading and dimensions. There were also 2 speed related derogations.
New South Wales has the most number of derogations, 16 in total and South Australia has 11 however SA’s derogations had the strongest responses from the NTC, due to what they described as undermining the national consistency or contravening natural justice of human and property rights.
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.
The NTC is currently working on delivering reform recommendations on its current work program. It will report on the issue in the next National Transport Reform Implementation Report.