Submissions sought on changes to national truck law


Chain of Responsibility and officer liability head a number of reforms

Submissions sought on changes to national truck law
Stirling Hinchliffe introduced the amendments.

 

Queensland Parliament’s Transportation and Utilities Committee is seeking submissions on amendments to national heavy vehicle and rail safety laws.

While part of the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 relates to the taxi industry, the heavy vehicle aspect focuses on Chain of Responsibility (COR).

Queensland is the host jurisdiction for this national law.

The amendment aims to "implement reforms for the national heavy vehicle industry to better align the align the obligations of chain of responsibility parties and executive officers with national safety laws, improve compliance and simplify enforcements as well as making a number of minor amendments to improve administration of the law".

Queensland transport minister Stirling Hinchliffe tells state parliament that the changes haveTransport and Infrastructure Council backing following "extensive" National Transport Commission (NTC) consultation "with state and territory transport authorities, police agencies and heavy vehicle industry representatives".

Long expected, the changes would introduce a positive duty on COR parties and executive officers to ensure the safety of their operations.

Each party in the chain of responsibility would have a primary duty of care, so far as reasonably practicable, to ensure the safety of their transport activities.

 In addition, executive officers are required to exercise due diligence to ensure their operations comply with this primary duty.

"In effect, chain-of-responsibility parties must ensure that their conduct does not cause or encourage drivers, or another person, to contravene the national law or to exceed a speed limit," Hinchliffe says.

"While terms and concepts such as ‘reasonably practicable’ and ‘due diligence’ are new to the national law, they are familiar to transport operators.

"The proposed amendments act to harmonise safety initiatives within the national law with the national model Work Health and Safety Act by using the same framework and principles."

He casts the measures as leading to a regulatory burden reduction.

"By replacing the current standard of ‘all reasonable steps’ and the reasonable steps defence with the ‘so far as reasonably practicable’ standard, transport operators will be able to manage all their heavy vehicle safety obligations under one framework," Hinchliffe says.

"By reframing the chain-of-responsibility provisions in the national law to reflect a principles based approach, the efforts of each relevant party can be focused on proactively identifying and managing safety risks in a way that best meets their individual business needs and allows for innovative responses to safety concerns."

The often criticised reverse onus of proof will end but roadworthiness and vehicle standards will become part of the primary duty of care and enforceable undertakings will be introduced as an alternative to prosecution for certain offences.

Such measures could include regular internal audits, training for managers and staff, or future reporting requirements to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

Other changes include self-clearing defect notices and failure to display accreditation labels offences.

"The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator will also be authorised to make minor administrative amendments to road access statutory instruments without the requirement to seek additional road manager consent," Hinchliffe says.

"In addition, responsible ministers, under certain circumstances, may delegate their approval powers to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Board to facilitate the making of minor amendments to guidelines and statutory approvals."

Comprehensive guidelines will be formulated.

Explanatory notes can be found here.

The Rail Safety National Law Bill aims to apply the Rail Safety National Law (RSNL) as the law of Queensland and establish the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) as the rail safety regulator in Queensland.

This Bill proposes to:

  • apply the RSNL, as modified by the Bill, as a law of Queensland
  • repeal the Transport (Rail Safety) Act 2010
  • define a number of terms to aid in the interpretation of the Rail Safety National Law in the Queensland context
  • provide for drug and alcohol testing of rail safety workers using procedures that are consistent with the procedures used by the police under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995
  • provide transitional arrangements.

Submissions can be sent to TUC@parliament.qld.gov.au   

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