Hancock eyes COR focus for national regulator

Bureaucrat in charge of establishing the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator wants tough chain of responsibility scheme at its core

Hancock eyes COR focus for national regulator
Hancock eyes COR focus for national regulator
By Brad Gardner | May 3, 2011

The bureaucrat in charge of establishing the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is pushing for stringent chain of responsibility measures at its core.

Speaking at the final information forum on proposed national truck regulations last week, Richard Hancock told attendees he wanted a dedicated team within the regulator to investigate chain of responsibility breaches and prosecute offenders.

He criticised current enforcement practices for targeting the trucking industry rather than holding all parties in the supply chain accountable.

"I want to achieve a sense of consistency around Australia and demonstrate an effort towards making chain of responsibility work. It’s good to have the law. We need to have the resources and the expertise and the will to actually put the law into practice," Hancock told the gathering.

"That means you don’t just target drivers on the road. You go to Woolworths, you go to Coles and you start a systematic process of investigation on a national basis of major participants in the overall supply chain. I think sometimes that’s what lacking."

In a recent chain of responsibility case, the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority prosecuted transporter Kalae for multiple overloading offences. A spokeswoman for the department told ATN it was unreasonable to pursue consignors and consignees.

Groups such as NatRoad have been highly critical of road authorities, claiming they are focusing too much on trucking operators instead of looking higher up the chain.

The Australian Livestock Transporters Association (ALTA) earlier this year argued for the regulator to be responsible for chain of responsibility investigations and prosecutions.

ALTA President David Smith also called for police officers to be held accountable to the regulator to ensure they enforce uniform road laws.

Hancock, who recently served as the CEO of the Department of Construction and Infrastructure in the Northern Territory, says a number of people have suggested the regulator directly control police forces.

"I’m here to tell you that it’s never going to happen," he told the forum.

"I think education and information and relationships are the way that we will engage with the police agencies and the states and territories and have them be part of perhaps a new approach to compliance and particularly enforcement activities into the future."

Hancock says the regulator will have the capacity to reach agreements with the states and territories on practices to be enforced on its behalf.

During his speech to the forum, he told assembled trucking operators that roadside enforcement will be delegated to individual jurisdictions. He says officers will be bound by national regulations and any agreement struck between the state or territory and the regulator.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is due to begin on January 1, 2013 and will be responsible for enforcing national regulations. It will be based in Queensland with offices across Australia. Hancock told the forum he wanted to make sure the reforms benefited the industry.

"We don’t want to create just another layer of regulation around Australia. We do want to create a meaningful and effective regulator," he says.

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