Industry backs Qld Transport Bill amendments


Driver licence status and ‘must carry’ provisions in the frame as committee considers ATA submission

Industry backs Qld Transport Bill amendments
A Queensland Parliamentary committee is looking into the amendments

 

The course of striking out extended ‘must carry’ provisions in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) has gained Australian Trucking Association (ATA) backing in reforms that may also lead to greater transparency on truck driver licences.

The Transport and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 is now before the Queensland Parliament’s Transport Housing and Local Government Committee.

While the headline reform for the industry is for the NHVR, the Bill takes in amendments to the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 that will allow the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) to offer an online driver licence verification service, which will confirm the validity of driver licences "to the licence holder or to a third party".

"A person may wish to check the status of their own licence (for example, to check whether their licence remains suspended)," the Bill’s explanatory notes states.

"The transport industry has requested an easy to use service to confirm these details for their employee truck drivers.

"Often these vehicles and the loads they carry are very valuable and employers want to be able to check licence details to ensure their vehicles are operating safely, assist in providing a safe workplace for their employees and avoid difficulties with insurance.

"Currently, there is no quick or convenient way for an employer to confirm that a driver holds a valid driver licence."

The Queensland Transport Association (QTA), the South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) and other representative bodies have pushed for the licence reform.

The Bill also deals with enforcement and compliance provisions relating to transporting dangerous goods in tunnels.

"Employers will now be able to check licence details to ensure operational safety and avoid potential difficulties with insurance," the QTA says of the new section 77AB.

If passed, there will be certain privacy safeguards.

The system will require the person verifying the driver licence to obtain the licence holder’s details, including their name, date of birth, licence number and details prescribed by regulation, which may include licence class and conditions.

If the details do not match the department’s records, the system will report that there is "no match", without stating which identifier did not match.

If the details match the department’s records, the system will confirm this and report if the licence is valid.

"The system will not release any other personal information about a person’s licence, such as their residential address, traffic history or information about demerit points," the explanatory notes say.

In its submission, the ATA highlights the Bill’s explanatory notes on the issue, which state that in drafting sections 468, 469 and 470, "the requirements applying to drivers and operators were inadvertently extended to include all forms of heavy vehicle accreditation, including mass and maintenance accreditation.

"This has resulted in increased red tape and an unnecessary regulatory burden on industry."

Extension of National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS)-related accreditation provisions were the subject of strong industry concern in February, when the law came into effect despite industry warnings about the error.

Amendment details can be found here.

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