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New National Law for Heavy Vehicle Operators

State borders are set to disappear with the introduction of a new national law for heavy vehicle operators. Trucks, buses and all vehicles weighing in at more than 4.5 tonnes will now operate under common guidelines across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. Negotiations continue with Western Australia and the Northern Territory to include them in the new national system.

The national heavy vehicle regulator will be responsible for ensuring compliance with national vehicle standards and for regulating drivers and industry safety practices. Regional Development Minister, Warren Truss, claims the new system will boost the economy by $12 billion over the next two decades.

What is the national Heavy Vehicle Regulator?

Based in Queensland, the host jurisdiction of the new law, the Regulator will be a single contact point providing centralised services and information to heavy vehicle operators across the nation on matters such as access approvals, vehicle standards, mass and loading, fatigue management, compliance and enforcement measures. From 2015, the Regulator will also be responsible for the administration of heavy vehicle registration.

The objective of the Regulator is to improve productivity and competitiveness to reduce the burden of compliance faced by interstate organisations and to make it easier for businesses and workers to operate across state borders.

Why is it being done?

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has driven a national program of micro-economic reforms in a range of sectors to produce single regulatory environments for the Australian economy. COAG claims that the more divergence within the law, the more resources interstate operators must expend on compliance.

Prior to 10 February, 2014:-

  • Requirements for heavy vehicle operators varied across jurisdictions;
  • Some model laws had been partially implemented, or not at all, leading to problems for cross-border compliance and enforcement;
  • Operators had to navigate a maze of government bodies for registration, vehicle standards and access.

In August 2011, COAG (with the exception of Western Australia) signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) on Heavy Vehicle Reform to establish an independent regulator and national laws for all vehicles over 4.5 tonnes including trucks, prime movers, buses and large trailers.

Under the IGA the objective is to achieve:-

  • Seamless national regulation;
  • Consistent administration;
  • Streamlined provision of services; and
  • Lower compliance costs.

It is hoped that the regulator will provide a stable platform for long term improvements in heavy vehicle regulation.

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