As previously reported the National Transport Commission have been examining the effectiveness of the current chain of responsibility and also welcomed input from the industry. Now according to an article on DieselNews.com.au the representatives of the trucking industry have agreed to a single submission to the National Transport Commission on amendments necessary to improve the current COR.
Gold Coast based lawyers Cooper Grace Ward recently hosted an industry information forum during which Chris Melham detailed the road transport industry’s position on chain of responsibility. As he explained this complex legislation has been reviewed by industry representative groups, working with the NTC. He explained the importance that the industry is represented and that they present a united front in tackling issues related to COR. Melham was quoted as explaining,
“Chain of responsibility is an extremely complex and inconsistent piece of legislation,” said Melham. “Over the last three of four years, the industry has, through NatRoad and other representative groups, been working with the NTC on COR.
“Our submission is going to be lodged with the NTC, by NatRoad and the ATA. This particular submission has got the support of every single road transport representative organisation in the ATA family. So that’s pretty powerful, going to government with one voice about what we think about COR and where it should go.
“We are at a really critical stage, in terms of industry and industry representation, because the jurisdictions are going to dig in. We are going in hard and going in united. That’s the message we are trying to get out there.
One of the concerns expressed by the industry representatives was how the bureaucracy put the draft out just before Christmas. As Melham pointed out it was surprising that the NTC waited until Christmas given the importance of the legislation, giving just a six week turnaround. He said they aren’t satisfied with the window that was given to respond to what is probably the most critical piece of legislation in the road transport industry.
The industry is also concerned about the way the COR law is structured, calling it too complex. They are also concerned about duplicate rules contained in different sections.
Melham also cited the recent case against Demorange in Victoria which the judge noted, the magistrate may have interpreted sections of the law incorrectly and stated that the industry is therefore calling for a new structure to the rules. The industry’s submission is calling for the dismantling of the act and section 1A in particular.
Melham went on to state about the industry’s submission,
“Our job is to try and pull this legislation apart and make it simpler,” said Melham. “It will allow every party in the supply chain the opportunity to better understand what it is each individual company needs to do to design codes of practise, instruction manuals and guiding materials for employees to comply. The act should be structured to allow you to do that.
“It’s our opinion it doesn’t do that. Because of this, it works in favour of the prosecutor, in this case, state governments, who have the backing of their treasury to take you to court. How can we defend that kind of scenario in a court of law? 95 per cent of the industry can’t and they cop the fines, infringements or vehicle groundings. That’s not what the law was set up to do.
The transport industry’s submission calls for the first section of the act to more clearly define who the parties in the chain of responsibility are and to define their specific duties. It is basically calling for clarity on the chain of responsibility, who it applies to and what it requires of them so that people don’t unwittingly break the law. Melham says that once these issues are clarified, operators will be in a better position to ensure compliance.