Overloading sanctions to stay in state hands

State and territory governments might still be able to impose individual sanctions for overloading breaches under national heavy vehicle laws

By Brad Gardner | March 28, 2011

The states and territories might still be free to impose individual sanctions for overloading breaches once national heavy vehicle laws are introduced.

The draft regulatory impact statement on a national law released last month wants jurisdictions to retain their existing differences when dealing with trucking operators caught breaching mass dimension requirements.

Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania altered what was supposed to be a national compliance and enforcement law when it was introduced by allowing courts to penalise operators for minor offences. The law was originally intended to apply to severe offences.

Western Australia rejected the sanctions policy altogether, leading to a number of variations across borders.

"Given that the NHVL [National Heavy Vehicle Law] is limited to vehicle registration at this time, it makes sense to remove licence sanctions from the national law and leave them within the states’ purview," the impact statement, released by the National Transport Commission, says.

"Jurisdictions would still retain the ability to pursue licence sanctions through their local laws.

While in theory this may lead to a greater range of offences and sanctions and a reduction in national consistency, in practice there will be minimal changes due to the infrequency with which these sanctions are used."

The impact statement, which draws on the work of an expert panel established to recommend solutions to resolving cross-border inconsistencies, says sanctions are designed to deter loading breaches, damage to road infrastructure, safety risks and unfair competitive advantages.

The panel has, however, recommended a single model for registration sanctions for overloading offences because all states and territories will eventually adopt the law. It says Western Australia and the Northern Territory are the only jurisdictions still to apply the policy.

"The intent is that penalties be sufficiently weighty to modify future behaviour and prevent recurring breaches," the impact statement says.

NTC CEO Nick Dimopoulos says a single set of heavy vehicle laws will save $12.4 billion over 20 years. The NTC found 368 regulatory differences that need to be resolved.

National laws are due to begin in 2013 and will be overseen by a regulator based in Queensland with offices throughout Australia.

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