VTA 2020: NTC gives heads up on HVNL reform RIS

By: Mark Gojszyk

Productivity boss Davies runs through regulatory impact statement points

VTA 2020: NTC gives heads up on HVNL reform RIS
Paul Davies


National Transport Commission (NTC) executive leader productivity Paul Davies expands on what operators may see in the HVNL 2.0 regulatory impact statement (RIS), to be released in a "month or so".

Davies kicks off the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) update at the Victorian Transport Association's (VTA's) annual conference by explaining the reality of creating a more responsive and consistent law out of the existing one.

"So at the moment, the law's about 800 pages or so," he says.

"If you want to change anything, you'd be taking a process of multiple years, realistically, by the time you go through the process of actually changing anything.

"We want to push things down the legislative hierarchy as much as possible. If it doesn't need to be in the law, put it in a regulation.

"If it doesn't need to be in a regulation, put it down into other materials, like guidance or standards. That allows it to be more responsive, and recognizing that business models and technology move much faster than legislation does.

Also reducing or removing the need for the participating jurisdictions to derogate. And making it easier – whether they'll sign up or not – for Western Australia and the Northern Territory to look at the law as something that's a bit more attractive.

"That means shifting more towards what they have there. It doesn't mean dragging them kicking and screaming into the current law, by any stretch."


With Chain of Responsibility continuing to be a hot topic in the freight transport sphere, the NTC is looking at improvement tweaks related to duties rather than any overhaul of the recently reformed concept and to evolve as such

"By and large, the primary duty and COR are not things that we want to move too far, but there are things that there are opportunities to make improvements in," Davies says.

"So, clarifications around the primary duty requirements, or any specific duties that are in the law."

He suggests that tightening COR definitions might drag more people into its orbit, including the likes of disruptors, such as Uber Freight, that might otherwise escape the net.  

Assurance and regulation

In comments that will likely catch the attention of Australian Trucking Association and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), not to mention Western Australian transport interests, the NTC sees the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) evolving into a different entity.

"We're looking at three main options there. For those who … wouldn't be aware … the NHVAS predates both the NHVR and the HVNL, it doesn't really align with them that well, it's fully shoehorned in there, I think it's fair to say.

"And so we're looking at opportunities to either remove it, essentially remove it as it is, and potentially replace it with performance standard approaches to deliver the same outcomes.

"We're … looking at models that will actually recognise other assurance schemes as one of the options there.

"Western Australia's accreditation scheme, for example, might be able to be formally recognised in the heavy vehicle national law."

Read how the HVNL review came about and where it’s going, here

With that would come a move to better enable the NHVR to be more effective in gaining positive outcomes rather than following  and enforcing process.

"[NHVR is] working hard and doing an excellent job of bringing some consistency, and a modern approach to regulation. But [it's] really restricted by the current law, it's fair to say," Davies says.

"And what we want to do is actually give it the powers it needs to be a modern regulator, and take, not a punitive or adversarial approach by any stretch, but actually working with operators."


Reforming fatigue management and compliance, a heavy focus of state and federal trucking industry representatives, is now accepted fully at the NTC as a serious need and it is working to that end.

"Fatigue management requirements: I've worked pretty hard on this one, and I think we've managed to get most people to agree that work and rest hours is not actually a really good way of measuring fatigue, and it's time to move on to better ways of looking at this," Davies says.

"Not to mention the record-keeping requirements that come with it.

"Not only are they a huge cost burden on industry, but they serve a real problem for drivers.

"Enforcement issues for drivers, I would personally find it outrageous that someone could get pulled up on the side of the road, and lose a week's wages because they can't spell the name of the town they were just in.

"It's getting away from that sort of stuff, and really refocusing fatigue management on actual safety outcomes."


Improving access and access decision-making is seen as helping the industry develop its efficiency.

"As things stand, there's plenty of opportunities to improve productivity. We're looking at access efficiency improvements across the board," Davies says.

"Not only for the larger end, but also at the smaller end, where general access needs to be reviewed. That hasn't really changed for the last 25 years, or more.

"This time we've had a look at that, so you can in fact improve productivity in the general access space as well.

"We're looking at the mass limits that currently exist, and we're looking at dimension limits as well there.

"Particularly as we have PBS vehicles now that are 20 metres long."

Along these lines, the NTC is exploring vehicle approvals and roadworthiness options

"Again, just touching on the PBS and what opportunities there might be to expand the use of these safer and more productive vehicles on our roads. And ways we could better align our road worthiness and risk."

Underpinning the modernisation of the HVNL would be a revamping of the framework for technology, data and information use

"We need to move from a paper-based law, to a law that's actually responsive, quick, simple to use, and makes use of modern technology. A 21st century law."


You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook


Trucks For Hire | Forklifts For Hire | Cranes For Hire | Generators For Hire | Transportable Buildings For Hire