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ATA to draft own version of HVNL after losing faith in NTC

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The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has flatly rejected any suggestion it is “relaxed” about the review and development of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

Big Rigs understands that federal and state transport ministers are due to meet tomorrow to discuss progress on the long-running review that began back in November, 2018.

But ATA chair David Smith says it’s ludicrous to suggest the ATA supports the current situation in any way.

“The National Transport Commission (NTC) process has simply been appalling,” Smith said.

“It’s dragged on for years. It fails to address the substantive issues for the industry and is riddled with errors.”

Smith said it’s even more alarming that early drafts simply don’t provide a safe and productive place for the transport of goods and services.

“We fear any new laws will be impossible for the ordinary truck driver and operator to understand and abide by.”

“We have written to the federal government stating very clearly how disappointed we are in the process and we’re now drafting our own version of the law for ministers to consider.”

In an emailed statement to Big Rigs in response to the ATA’s latest denoucement, NTC chair Carolyn Walsh said the commission remains committed to developing a new Heavy Vehicle National Law that meets the safety and productivity needs of Australia.
“Following industry feedback that they want stronger involvement, NTC is working closely with industry representatives in a spirit of good faith,” Walsh said.
“We look forward to continuing these productive discussions and broadening our conversations to include the wider industry as we implement our work program.”

According to the NTC review website, throughout 2019 the commission consulted with governments, regulators, heavy vehicle drivers, large and small operators, peak industry bodies, technology providers, and the wider community to get a clear and accurate picture of problems with the HVNL.

Big Rigs joined with the ATA during this time to run a ‘Have Your Say’ campaign and jointly submitted hundreds of ideas from truckies on how to improve the current HVNL.

In September 2019, the process shifted from identifying issues to generating solutions. The NTC facilitated the development of reform approaches for the future HVNL and sought feedback on these, including targeted workshops in Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne.

In January 2020, the NTC released a Summary of consultation outcomes.

In June 2020, the NTC released a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) based on hundreds of submissions to eight issues papers and collaboration with government, industry, the police, the regulator and the Australian community. The NTC also released a complementary guide HVNL 2.0 – a better law scenario to be read alongside the RIS as a short-form description of one possible scenario for the future law.

Public consultation on the Consultation RIS ran until 20 November 2020 where the NTC received over 100 submissions. 

This feedback informed recommendations presented to ministers in May 2021, added the website.

On May 28, infrastructure and transport ministers approved a two-year HVNL Safety and Productivity Program to implement reform outcomes from the HVNL review.

This implementation phase of the program will lead to an updated law that:

  • is based on a new, risk-management focussed operator assurance framework, and
  • offers simplicity for those who need it and flexibility for those who seek it.

The program, comprising of six reform areas, aims to deliver productivity and safety benefits against a two-year delivery plan.

The NTC said it will lead the following reform areas in collaboration with governments and industry to deliver draft legislative amendments and other draft instruments:

  • Operator assurance scheme
  • Technology and data
  • Duties and driver health
  • Fatigue management
  • Vehicles and access
  • Legislative approach.
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