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Queensland passes NHVR amendments

Sunshine State passes package of amendments to the NHVR, introducing new penalty framework to increase fatigue management fines

By Brad Gardner | February 15, 2013

The shift to a national set of regulations is one step closer after Queensland passed a package of amendments to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

Parliament last night passed the Heavy Vehicle National Law Amendment Bill, which follows the passage of the Heavy Vehicle National Law late last year.

The Bill contains a number of significant matters that were not dealt with when the Heavy Vehicle National Law passed, such as the establishment of a national penalty framework and improvements to road access arrangements.

Transport Minister Scott Emerson (pictured) says the Bill’s passage means other states and territories can now begin their own processes to implement the NHVR in their jurisdictions. Governments are aiming for a July 1 start date, although Western Australia is unlikely to take part.

“At that time, the regulator will commence administering the national law and will be responsible for heavy vehicle regulatory services,” Emerson says.

The NHVR opened on January 21 this year, but its responsibilities were confined to looking after Performance Based Standards (PBS) and the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS).

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese labelled the Bill’s passage “a watershed moment for Australia’s transport sector”.

“The heavy vehicle sector is the lifeblood of our economy and streamlining the laws and regulations that govern this sector will cut red tape, reduce costs, improve safety and enhance efficiency,” he says.

The Bill’s passage implements the new penalty framework in Queensland. Fines for fatigue management offences will increase significantly, with the changes to apply in other jurisdictions on July 1.

Courts will be able to fine drivers $4,000 for minor breaches of standard hours and basic fatigue management (BFM) – an increase of $2,350.

The maximum penalty for substantial breaches has gone from $2,700 to $6,000, while those done for severe breaches of standard hours, BFM or advanced fatigue management can be fined $10,000 fine. Previously, the figure was capped at $4,950. The penalty for a critical offence has risen by more than $8,000 to $15,000.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads says 174 court imposed penalties will rise, while 149 will decrease. The number of infringement penalties will fall by 132, while 39 will increase in value.

“One of the most important things that this Bill does is create nationally consistent maximum penalties for all offences relating to heavy vehicles,” Queensland Opposition spokeswoman on transport Jackie Trad says.

“Some penalties in Queensland will rise and some will fall. This is the same for every other jurisdiction.”

Trad says the new penalties will be reviewed in 2014 to ensure they “are effective and fair”.

Chatsworth MP Steve Minnikin says the NHVR will in the next six months create a national mapping network to combine existing gazetted routes and maps from across the country and make them available on its website.

“Any local government network mapping products that are available will also be included. An operator can access this central resource and ascertain what conditions or gazettal notices apply to a particular route or part of the road network and plan their trip accordingly,” he says.

Emerson used the Bill’s passage to praise the work of his department in preparing the legislation.

“It has been a long journey, but it has been a worthwhile journey,” he says.

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