Calls grow for ministers to follow through on national truck law reforms

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) said it’s vital that transport ministers don’t do a backflip and renege on promised reforms to the national truck laws when they meet again tomorrow.

In September 2022, the ministers agreed to overdue changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) that would increase the trucking industry’s productivity and simplify the complex fatigue rules applying to truck drivers.

But as a well-placed industry source first revealed to Big Rigs yesterday, there is now growing industry concern that they will buckle to other “bureaucratic” pressures and revert back to the status quo.

ATA chair Mark Parry implored ministers to agree to press on with the reforms put together by former NSW Roads and Maritime Services CEO Ken Kanofski after a widespread and lengthy consultation process.

“The agreed reforms would increase the productivity of the trucking industry, which has stagnated since the 1990s. Productivity is the key to increasing wages without inflation, as well as continuing the path towards lower emissions intensity,” Parry said.

“The reforms would increase the productivity of trucks with heavy cargoes by up to five per cent. Trucks could be a metre longer and 30 centimetres higher, so operators would not need as many special permits.

“The truck driver fatigue rules are a maze of random requirements that drivers must meet perfectly. The reforms would simplify their work diaries, make enforcement fairer and reduce penalties to reasonable levels.”

Parry said he now understands that the various jurisdiction departments can’t agree on the details.

“Some states are even denying that their ministers reached an agreement at all, despite their joint public statement to the contrary.

“When they meet on Friday, we would urge transport ministers to stick to their original plan and agree to press on with the reforms. The industry was prepared to compromise to get a result; we expect ministers and their departments to do the same.

“In addition, ministers must agree on a structured process for continuing the law reform process in manageable chunks, as well as a process for agreeing to minor or technical changes.

“The industry’s productivity, safety, sustainability and ability to attract staff depends on ministers getting this right.”

The HVNL applies across Australia except in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

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