Dangerous goods Bill to boost consistency and fines

NSW road and rail operators bound by stringent dangerous goods legislation, which streamlines regulations and threatens jail time and fines

By Brad Gardner

NSW road and rail operators will soon be bound by new stringent dangerous goods legislation, which will streamline regulations and threaten jail time and fines for offenders.

Calling it "a victory for commonsense and residents who live near transport thoroughfares", Minister for Climate Change and Environment Carmel Tebutt says the Dangerous Goods (Road and Rail Transport) Bill will benefit the transport industry as well as communities.

The Government has incorporated into the Bill the dangerous goods package proposed by the National Transport Commission (NTC) and has also included United Nations safety standards.

Other states and territories are expected to introduce similar laws this year to provide a single set of regulations for domestic road and rail operators, which Tebbut says will promote consistency in the industry.

"The objective is to support industry and the domestic economy by moving these goods around as efficiently as possible, while maintaining and improving safety standards," Tebutt says.

Under the legislation, prime contractors, companies and individual drivers will all be held liable for breaches, with fines ranging from $6,600 to $110,000 for individuals and up to $550,000 for corporations.

The Bill also grants wide-ranging powers to enforcement officers. It is an offence to hinder, threaten or obstruct an officer, and individuals may be jailed for six months and fined $11,000 for doing so.

Officers also have the power to investigate potential or actual dangerous activities, and to compel those being investigated to cooperate.

Individuals guilty of causing a death can be jailed for up to four years as well as fined $110,000, while a corporation can be fined $550,000.

The legislation makes it an offence for a prime contractor or individual to use a vehicle not licensed to carry dangerous goods if they know or "reasonably ought to know" a license is required.

Individual face two years’ imprisonment and possibly a $55,000 fine, while a corporation can be fined up to $275,000 for any breaches.

Individuals caught carting a dangerous goods load without a licence can be fined up to $11,000, and any company which engages a non-licensed driver can be fined $275,000.

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