ALC rejects heavy vehicle law draft

ALC expresses concern that draft National Heavy Vehicle Law and regulatory impact statement will not achieve the desired national approach

ALC rejects heavy vehicle law draft
ALC rejects heavy vehicle law draft

By Anna Game-Lopataand Brad Gardner| March 28, 2011

Peak Logistics body the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) says national regulators will fail if not supported at the highest level.

In a letter to transport ministers, the ALC expresses concern that the recent draft National Heavy Vehicle Law and regulatory impact statement (RIS), may not achieve the desired national approach.

The letter warns that the draft law and impact statement released last month by the National Transport Commission (NTC) could open the way for National Heavy Vehicle regulation to once again fall prey to misalignment between the states.

ALC CEO Michael Kilgariff is critical of the documents, saying they allow for
individual government entities to interpret and enforce heavy vehicle law rather than the appointed National Regulator.

"ALC is of the view that COAG and transport ministers should ensure that the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is the government agency with responsibility to administer and enforce the national law," Kilgariff says.

"ALC is very concerned that these regulators will not be deemed a success if a new layer of regulation is created, rather than real national laws with a national approach to compliance and enforcement."

Kilgariff contends the model to be supported should ensure all critical functions of the national system are performed by officers of the national regulator.

"Other agencies, such as state police forces and work cover authorities, should only be eligible to receive a delegation if they have undergone suitable training provided by the national regulator," he says.

Kilgariff says even with the clearest guidelines individual government entities develop their own cultures, interpret national law in diverging ways, and develop their own enforcement priorities.

"This is particularly pertinent in relation to chain of responsibility issues," Kilgariff says.


For example, the draft regulatory impact statement on national laws proposes allowing states and territories to impose their own Higher Mass Limits (HML) conditions.

HML allows vehicles to carry greater loads on select routes in return for agreeing to additional compliance requirements such as the Intelligent Access Program (IAP).

According to the report, HML has the potential to reduce road freight costs by $498 million and pavement costs by $11.2 million annually.

While noting frustration within the trucking industry over existing provisions, the document
recommends retaining the existing system.

"Those jurisdictions that feel it is too permissive would be required to make local exclusions by way of derogation," the document states.

"Jurisdictions that feel that the model law does not go far enough could enable local productivity variations by way of notices and permits."

Based on the findings of an independent expert panel established to resolve cross-border inconsistencies, the impact statement says extensive consultation between jurisdictions has failed to reach a consensus on eligible HML vehicles.

It says the states and territories diverted from what was supposed to be a uniform law due to concerns over whether infrastructure – mainly bridges – could support heavier trucks.

"The failure to implement the HML policy in a consistent manner is a source of significant frustration for industry, particularly for those that operate in cross-border regions," the impact statement says.


"While the National Rail Safety Draft Bill, Regulations and Regulatory Impact Statement RIS) have not yet been released ALC is also concerned that a truly national approach to rail safety should be a similar objective," Kilgariff adds.

"The National Rail Safety Regulator should be the sole government agency with responsibility to administer and enforce rail safety regulation, as well as publish guidelines on how those regulations are interpreted."

"ALC notes that the draft 2011 RIS estimates total gains of $12.4 billion could be available if a national scheme is implemented," Kilgariff says.

"The total gains identified in the draft 2011 RIS could be lost if the proposed national regulator does not have full responsibility for the operation of the national law.

"ALC will continue to engage with all Governments and officials to encourage the adoption of measures designed to achieve real national laws in the Australian transport and logistics industry," he says.

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