ATA calls for public availability of COR prosecution details

By: Rob McKay


NHVR backs education program rather than publishing legal judgments

ATA calls for public availability of COR prosecution details
Christopher Melham wants regular reports regarding the extent and nature of non-compliance across the supply chain.

 

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has all the states’ Chain Of Responsibility (COR) prosecution details at its fingertips but the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) hopes and expects that they will not just stay there.

Asked if the NHVR will make such detail available to the public and the industry to gauge where the COR initiative is at, NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto tells ATN the NHVR will rather embark on an "industry education program" that will entail liaison and input from the trucking industry.

The NHVR does not currently maintain an internal archive, "as details of all prosecutions and judgements are available from various state and territory agencies" but under the Heavy Vehicle National Law it is tasked with reporting to ministers on COR progress.

Questioned about the lack of transparency on the details of enforcement, much of which is dealt with at magistrate level, where rulings are rarely published, the NHVR did not address the issue directly.

"Rather than make legal judgements available, the NHVR is aiming to produce user-friendly, plain-English advice and support materials for industry, so that all COR parties understand their obligations," Petroccitto says in a written response.

"An NHVR-led industry education program will be part of a national operating framework for Chain Of Responsibility currently being developed by the Regulator, in partnership with the NHVR National Compliance and Enforcement Operations Forum (NCEOF), which comprises heads of heavy vehicle compliance for all state and territory road transport authorities and police agencies.

"Industry representatives will provide practical advice and input into the development of the Framework and any educational materials.

"Training programs for NHVR service providers (who apply the law on the Regulator’s behalf) will also be developed under the same banner, aiming to align investigative skills and prosecutions with nationally consistent protocols."

That might not be enough for the ATA.

"The ATA recognises that one function of the NHVR is to report on the extent to which particular aspects of the HVNL are being achieved, including COR law," ATA CEO Christopher Melham says.

"In order for industry to judge its performance under COR, the ATA feels it is necessary for the NHVR to provide regular reports regarding the extent and nature of non-compliance across the supply chain.  

"The ATA encourages the NHVR to incorporate requirements in its service provider agreements that it has in place with contracted jurisdictions (if not already in place) for them to provide the NHVR with regular case results in this area, including those not publicly reported.

"These should then be made publicly available by the NHVR.

"The industry remains committed to improving its safety and compliance record, and trusts that jurisdictions share the same objective.

"Full and transparent disclosure of COR court decisions will assist the industry to improve its performance under COR."

How much analysis the NHVR will be able to do on the information the states provide is unclear.

In at least one major state, unless a transcript of proceedings is requested, it is rare for the court to hand down a written judgement as most prosecutions are dealt with summarily in the Magistrates Court. 

This means the record will be of COR prosecutions commenced and the basic court outcome only.

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