As the National Transport Commission continues through the process of coming up with an all-new Heavy Vehicle National Law, the trucking industry can still engage in getting the new law right as comments on suggested rules are being sought online on the HVNL Review website.The NTC tells us it is developing and collating a set of suggested policy options for the future HVNL. These suggested policy options are descibed as a realistic suggestion of how the HVNL can be changed to deliver better outcomes. From this process of industry comment the NTC expects to get a clear picture of how the HVNL can be reformed and who this will affect.
The online process will see a to and fro between the NTC and interested parties online during which they will be testing options to inform the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement, which will be released in early 2020.
The objects of the current HVNL include the promotion of both safety and productivity. Stakeholders consider that the law should not imply that productivity can be achieved at the expense of safety. Stakeholders have suggested the objects of the law should clearly indicate that safety is the primary objective, to remove any potential conflicts.
This suggested policy option addresses the potential conflict between safety and productivity in the objects of the current HVNL.
Over half of Australia (by area) is not covered by the HVNL. Where the HVNL is applied, jurisdictions change or don’t apply some parts of the law (derogate). The NTC has heard from drivers and operators that multiple and inconsistent approaches to heavy vehicle regulation across Australia makes it difficult for them to comply.
A single national law should reduce regulatory burden on operators, drivers and enforcement.
The HVNL has a paper focus in that it requires drivers to carry copies of documents, such as Performance Based Standards approvals, permits and accreditation certificates. The National Transport Commission (NTC) has heard from government, operators, drivers and peak bodies about the burden carrying paper documentation imposes.
This policy option proposes that the law supports the use of electronic documentation.
The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is highly prescriptive: almost two-thirds of the HVNL contain prescription. Feedback from stakeholders has indicated that the HVNL is inflexible and focuses on inputs rather than outcomes.
While there is support for a move towards a risk-based approach to regulation, there is recognition that a prescriptive approach may provide clarity and is more appropriate under some circumstances.
The NTC has recognised that a two-tier model which provides operators increased flexibility by way of choosing between prescriptive and performance-based regulation.
All of these topics and more will be appearing on the HVNL Reform website over time. Trucking industry can sign up for alerts and the opportunity to comment on the process as it plays out.