Improve the Chain

The chain of responsibility (COR) legislation needs to be streamlined with safety prioritised is a common view in the trucking industry. The current legislation sets out COR duties by attempting to prescribe exactly how businesses must operate, discouraging innovation and creating unnecessary red tape.


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The Australian Trucking Association suggests the introduction of a general duty that applies to trucking operators, consignors and all other chain parties in its submission to the National Transport Commission. At the same time, the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association is calling for a clearing up of an ongoing effluent issue with the current rules in its submission to the NTC.

“Best practice safety legislation uses primary (or general) duties to outline the scope of a business’s responsibilities, and allows businesses to develop their own procedures to meet these standards,” said Christopher Melham, CEO of the ATA. “As such, we recommend that a general safety duty is developed to apply to all chain of responsibility parties.

“This approach would improve safety, because COR parties would have to consider their operations as a whole rather than ticking off compliance boxes. The obligations on businesses and staff would be clear, instead of hidden in concepts like deemed liability.

“The introduction of general duties would also open the way for many complex, duplicated and overlapping provisions to be removed from the Heavy Vehicle National Law, providing red tape reduction benefits for industry, regulators and the courts.”

The ALRTA has some specific concerns around the effluent issue, an area in which road authorities like the RMS in NSW are clamping down. In its submission the focus is on law reform to make it possible for the authorities to prosecute those responsible for effluent breaches, namely consignors who do not keep animals off food and water for thew proscribed periods before loading.

Under current rules, livestock carriers are being responsible for effluent spillage on the highway. Animals are defined as ‘goods’ under the law and effluent loss is dealt with as a load restraint breach. Regulators have not ascertained whether or not a person preparing animals for transport is a party in the chain of responsibility, as defined under the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

The ALRTA submission to the NTC argues strongly for changes to the definition of consignor and packer, when related to livestock, to remove any doubt.

The full submission by the ATA can be downloaded here.