It is being described as a once in a generation occurrence, the trucking industry has the chance of a lifetime to get the rules to align with reality in trucking. What’s concerning is this chance has come our way and there’s not much in the way of taking up of that opportunity, so far.
The opportunity is the rewriting of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), which was drafted as a mish-mash compromise from the existing laws covering trucks in the different states. At the time it was just about getting an HVNL up as part of the creation of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
The process of developing a new HVNL is going on right now. There are going to be a series of issues papers released by the National Transport Commission on various topics covered by the law. The first one has been released, but the rest are going to be released between now and the end of August.
The topics include fatigue management, access, there’s two on safety, accreditation and compliance. The idea is for stakeholders around the trucking industry to download these papers and then get back to the NTC with suggestions for how a particular aim can be achieved or what should not be covered in the new law.
Speaking to the NatRoad Conference this week, the Chair of the Expert Panel, Peter Harris, formerly Chair at the Productivity Commission, said that submissions to the panel are a bit thin on the ground. The panel is tasked with sifting through the topics and the submissions sent in and making recommendations to the NTC about the form of the new law.
This is our chance, this is how to get things better, to be rid of those ridiculous anomalies in the law that have annoyed us for so long. There will be formal, and probably long, submissions on each topic from the associations who represent the trucking industry in Canberra and around the state capitals, but there is an opportunity for some real grassroots comment to cut through and get a hearing at the top table.
The large transport companies will also make submissions, but these will centre around the view from the corporate offices in Melbourne and elsewhere. They will be considered and may get a run in the new law.
There is no reason why the rest of the trucking industry can’t have its own say and also get heard in the corridors of power. There is a deep well of knowledge and lateral thinking throughout the trucking industry and we need to tap into it and come up with innovative ideas and suggestions which will make trucking a more rational industry to work in.
Over the coming months there will be a chance to look at what the NTC is thinking and then put in a reply and come up the smart ideas for everyone in trucking. With the combined knowledge we have behind the wheel and driving computers in operations rooms, workshops etc, we can surely come up with some better solutions than the current hotch-potch of rules.
This opportunity is not going to come around again any time soon. Now, is your chance to make a difference to the laws we have to work with and improve life on the road. Any submission doesn’t have to be grand. Just a few sentences in an email will suffice if you have a good idea.
Diesel News will flag when specific issues papers come online.