Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2016
Queensland has become the first Australian state or territory to
enact the Heavy Vehicle National Law which was approved by the
Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI) in
The purpose of the Law is to provide a single set of rules and
procedures for businesses engaged in the heavy vehicle road
transport industry throughout Australia. The streamlining of the
regulatory system is forecast by the National Heavy Vehicle
Regulator to result in productivity gains for the industry of up to
$12.4 billion during the next 20 years.
In Queensland, the Act imposes obligations on employers and
prime contractors of heavy vehicle drivers to take "all
reasonable steps" to ensure their business practices do not
cause drivers to undertake dangerous or illegal actions such as
exceeding speed limits attached to their licence or vehicle,
driving while fatigued, overloading a vehicle or failing to report
a malfunctioning odometer.
The Act also provides that where a company commits an offence
against the Act, each executive officer of the company also commits
an offence and can be prosecuted without the regulator having to
first prosecute the company for the offence.
The regulator is granted significant powers to enter premises or
vehicles, inspect records in hard copy and electronic formats,
seize items believed to be evidence of an offence against the Act
and obtain information from individuals connected with a business
when investigating a possible offence.
Officers of the Regulator have authority to issue improvement
notices to individuals or businesses the officer reasonably
suspects of having breached an obligation imposed under the Act,
requiring them to take specified action to rectify the breach
within a certain period of time (usually seven days from the date
of the notice).
Other powers granted to officers of the regulator under the Act
Issuing a heavy vehicle defect notice, prohibiting the vehicle
from use until such times as the defect is rectified;
Directing drivers of fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles to
immediately cease work and rest for a specified period, and/or work
a shift of a prescribed duration when the driver resumes work,
where the officer reasonably suspects the driver has breached a
maximum work requirement; and
Requiring drivers of heavy vehicles to produce their license
and any other documentation they are required to keep in the
vehicle under the Act.
Where a business or individual is convicted of an offence
against the Act, a court can impose a variety of possible
Penalties ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 per offence for
individuals and $5,000 to $50,000 for companies
Commercial benefits penalty orders, requiring the offender to
pay up to 3 times the estimated gross commercial benefit the
offender received, or would have received, as a result of the
Suspension or cancellation of a heavy vehicle's
Orders regulating the business practices of repeat offenders
for a period of up to 1 year, in order to reduce the risk of
Orders prohibiting a convicted person from having a role or
responsibility in the road transport industry for a period of up to
While the Heavy Vehicle National Law Act 2012 was
passed by the Queensland Parliament in February, a commencement
date is yet to be determined despite the national regulator
commencing operations in Brisbane.
To prepare for the anticipated implementation of the Law by
State and Territory governments throughout Australia during 2013,
all businesses in the heavy vehicle road transport industry
Provide training to all executive officers and drivers engaged
by the business on their obligations under the Law;
Conduct a gap analysis review of the business's existing
operating procedures to identify any compliance issues with
applicable obligations under the Law;
Develop policies and procedures for dealing with authorised
officers investigating a possible breach of the Law; and
Monitor the Regulator's website for updates about the
implementation of the Law in each State and Territory.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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