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HVNL review: regulatory tools

20 November 2020

The Heavy Vehicle National Law is top heavy. It is 676 pages long. Because of its origin as a set of model laws, it includes a host of provisions that could and should be regulations rather than sections of a primary act.

The ATA submission on chapter 5 of the HVNL review RIS (regulatory tools) proposes transferring many provisions from the law to the national regulations.

This approach would increase the flexibility and responsiveness of the system.

Transferring penalties to the regulations would also be an opportunity to reconsider and rescale the penalties for prescriptive offences, especially for truck drivers. These penalties do not make the roads safer. They act, instead, as a frustrating maze of random hazards for drivers.

These penalties should be scaled against the maximum penalty for a regulatory offence under the HVNL, $4,000 for an individual or $20,000 for a corporation.

For example, the maximum penalty for a minor record keeping offence under s 301 of the law is $1,500. This could be reset to a more appropriate level, $400, with the infringement notice penalty set to $40.

In addition, routine use should be made of warnings; there should be policies in place to withdraw infringement notices for matters already dealt with under an employer’s SMS.

The submission also recommends a package of governance and accountability reforms to Chapter 12 of the HVNL, based on recognised best practice for regulators.

The ATA made a series of submissions to the NTC in response to the HVNL review RIS. The other submissions are: