NTC insists industry is crucial to HVNL reform

In face of resistance Miles says no position finalised

NTC insists industry is crucial to HVNL reform
Gillian Miles


With the threat of a serious rift between itself and the trucking industry emerging on Friday, the National Transport Commission (NTC) welcomed industry stakeholders today to an important workshop discussion on the work and rest hours for heavy vehicle drivers.

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad), Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) assessed the TNC’s approach to Heavy Duty National Law (HVNL) reform consultation bluntly last week, saying the process was "broken" and raising the likelihood of the industry’s withdrawal from it.

While not addressing the points raised in ATN’s report on the matter, NTC CEO and commissioner Dr Gillian Miles appeared to give a reassurance to the industry that its input was valued and minds there were still open.

"The NTC is having this series of workshops because we need industry to be part of the conversation all the way through," Miles said.

"The NTC has not finalised a position.

"It will be based on the best available evidence that factors in local conditions and practices to strike the right balance for Australia."

Read how the industry is considering walking away from the NTC process, here

The NTC said that, as part of the Heavy Vehicle National Law Safety and Productivity Program, it was drawing on scientific and safety evidence and operational insights in Australia and internationally to inform a best practice approach to managing driver fatigue.

"Today’s workshop is an opportunity to share the best practice research and to factor in local conditions by listening to the many voices and experience across industry," Miles said.

"It would be remiss of us not to fully understand the practical impacts of applying the science and research, because we need to get the balance right and make this work for Australia."

It noted that Australian research had highlighted that fatigue is as much an issue for short-haul light truck drivers as it is for long-haul heavy vehicle drivers.

"Evidence also tells us that shift hours longer than 12 hours are associated with at least a twofold increase in drowsiness events. International studies found some aspects of driving performance deteriorated after eight to nine hours driving," Miles said.

The workshop will seek feedback on the:

  • impact of fatigue provisions on driver health and wellbeing and earnings
  • the wider heavy vehicle industry impacts on transport costs and productivity
  • the feasibility of transitioning to a streamlined approach that considers the types of trucking operations and regional and geographic differences across Australia.

"We have worked closely with industry since the HVNL review in 2019. It is through combining research and engagement from multiple sources that the NTC will be best placed to prepare detailed advice, and a draft law, for ministers," Miles said.

The NTC said it had completed a first-principles review of the law on behalf of Australia’s transport ministers and is on track to deliver a modern, outcome-focused law for regulating heavy vehicle operations in Australia.

Further stakeholder workshops on heavy vehicle duties, technology and data, assurance, access and effective fatigue management requirements will also help inform the new law.


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