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Qld committee releases HVNL Amendment Bill report

Committee recommends making chain of responsibility provisions more comprehensible


Queensland’s Transportation and Utilities Committee recommends the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 be passed and the National Transport Commission (NTC) consider measures to make chain of responsibility (COR) provisions more “transparent” and “easily understood”.

The committee also suggests the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), other authorities and key stakeholders consider whether changes to the Heavy Vehicle (Mass, Dimension and Loading) National Regulation would be appropriate “to ensure the mass limits reflect operational practice and are nationally consistent as far as reasonably practicable”.

The recommendations are part of the committee’s report on the Heavy Vehicle National Law Amendment Bill.

The report, which was based on consideration of policy outcomes and application of fundamental legislative principles, outlines suggestions from industry bodies, including the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporter’s Association (ALRTA).

The report examines the proposed amendments to the HVNL Act and HVNL, including: chain of responsibility amendments, maintenance amendments, compliance with the Legislative Standards Act 1992, and certain other issues.

The committee highlights ATA’s recommendation to include a new chapter relating to primary duty that would result in all parties sharing reasonability under the chain of responsibility rules.

The report notes ATA’s support to introduce higher penalties as a “necessary deterrent” to operators who flout safety obligations.

Based on the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, these penalties could be as high as $300,000 or five years imprisonment, or both, for an individual and $3 million for a corporation.

The report also highlights the proposed changes to the executive officer liability clause that states that:

“Under the amended provision executive officers will commit an offence if they did not exercise reasonable diligence to ensure the corporation did not engage in the conduct constituting an offence. The onus is on the prosecution to prove that the officer did not exercise reasonable diligence. In determining whether the office did exercise reasonable diligence a court must consider whether to officer was in a position to influence the corporation’s conduct, and the action the officer took or could reasonably have taken to prevent the conduct.”

The report highlights ATA and ALRTA’s suggestion to include an additional example in the definition of packer to make specific reference to live animals.

“The committee noted that the definition of packer is an issue of significant concern for the ATA and ALRTA in the interest of improving road safety, biosecurity, public amenity and animal welfare outcomes,” the report states.

Having examined the application of the fundamental legislative principles section 4 of the Legislative Standards Act 1992 to the Bill, the committee notes: “a person may still provide a reasonable excuse defence under section 570A(5) if they fail to provide information to an authorised officer and any information provided cannot be used as evidence against an individual in a civil or criminal proceeding pursuant to section 570A(7).

“The information is also subject to legal professional privilege by way of section 735A and is consistent with the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

“In terms of review, the option of judicial review is still available to a person who believes they should not be compelled to provide certain information to an authorised officer.

“Given the safeguards in place, and the justification provided in the explanatory notes, the committee considers the section appropriate in the circumstances.”

Read the full report and the committee’s recommendations here.

The NTC is currently accepting submissions from interested parties on ways to improve HVNL.

If passed, changes to the HVNL will be effective across all participating states and territories including Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

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