The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has commissioned follow up legal advice on how to fix the liability of business managers and directors under the new national truck laws.
According to the ATA, under draft laws before the Queensland parliament, company directors and executives, business partners and the managers of unincorporated trucking businesses are all presumed at fault if their business is found guilty of chain of responsibility offences.
They must then prove their innocence, even though one of the fundamental principles of Australia’s legal system is that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
ATA policy manager, David Coonan, said the legal advice would propose a tough but fair approach to chain of responsibility.
“The legal advice will put forward changes to the law so directors and company officers are innocent of chain of responsibility offences until proven guilty. But they will also have a positive duty to ensure their business complies with the law, which will strengthen their responsibility for road safety whether they run a trucking business or are one of the industry’s customers,” David said.
The legal advice will also propose changes to ensure access to decisions made by road managers are subject to a merits-based appeal process.
“All too often, road managers like local councils refuse to issue truck access permits for reasons that are inconsistent or unclear,” he added. “What’s needed is an appeals process with an independent tribunal.
“It’s the only way we can secure the productivity gains expected to flow from the national truck laws, because those gains depend heavily on better road access,” Coonan concluded.