Heavy Vehicle National Laws clear another legislative hurdle

The most significant road transport reform Australia has ever undertaken has cleared another legislative hurdle.

This month, the Queensland Government passed the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) Amendment Bill 2012, paving the way for one national rule book for Australia’s heavy vehicle industry.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson says last week’s Heavy Vehicle National Law Amendment Bill 2012 meant 12 pieces of legislation over 8,000 pages was now one piece of legislation, just over 700 pages in length.

“That is an incredible reduction in the regulatory burden on industry and serves to reduce confusion for heavy vehicle operators, heavy vehicle enforcers and transport agencies,” Mr Emerson says.

“I’ve had many conversations with Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese and other states to agree on the terms and deliver this national program, hosted in Queensland.

“This means other Australian states and territories can follow Queensland’s lead in passing the national law, empowering a single regulator for the heavy vehicle industry.”

Improvements brought about by the Heavy Vehicle National Law will result in estimated productivity benefits of $162 million per year, accruing to industry and the economy over the next 22 years.

“The establishment of a regulator has also received strong support from the nation’s freight and logistics industry, particularly during the comment period,” Mr Emerson says.

“The Regulator will be a single contact point – a ‘one-stop-shop’ providing centralised business services and information to heavy vehicle owners, operators and drivers across the nation.

“We’re looking at being able to improve productivity and safety, removing inefficient policies and streamlining arrangements to see reductions in costs and regulatory burdens Australia-wide.”

When the Heavy Vehicle National Law comes into effect across Australia, the Regulator would be able to start administering the law and would be responsible for national heavy vehicle regulatory services.

The HVNL will be administered by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), which opened for business earlier this year.

The NHVR Board Chair, the Hon. Bruce Baird AM, welcomed the Bill’s passing as a tremendous milestone more than five years in the making.

“This Bill is an extraordinary achievement for industry and all levels of government across Australia,” Mr Baird says.

“I’m pleased to see this collaborative effort reflected in the Queensland Parliament, where the HVNL Amendment Bill received strong bipartisan support.

“The legislative wheels are now rolling and we’re looking forward to delivering real safety, productivity and efficiency improvements for the heavy vehicle industry.”

The HVNL consolidates eight different sets of state and territory road transport laws into one national rule book, meaning reduced red tape for industry and reduced transport costs that should flow on to all operators, large and small.

Currently an operator carrying a truckload of bananas travelling from Far North Queensland to Melbourne must comply with three different sets of laws, a huge administrative burden on the 85 percent of operators that are small, family-operated enterprises.

“The benefits of one national rule book are substantial – it’s been estimated to unlock productivity gains for the heavy vehicle industry of up to $12.4 billion over the next 20 years, which also means savings all along the supply chain, right through to consumers.

“When you consider that delivery costs account for an estimated 43 per cent of the cost of a loaf of bread, the potential for hip-pocket savings is very real.”

Mr Baird thanks Queensland Transport Minister Scott Emerson for his strong support and says he looks forward to the adoption of the HVNL by participating states and territories later in 2013.

Once the HVNL is adopted nationally, the NHVR will deliver a wide range of services in a one-stop-shop for key heavy vehicle road transport business with government.

The NHVR opened for business on January 21 and currently manages the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) and design and vehicle approvals for Performance-Based Standards (PBS).