The Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 is currently before the Queensland Parliament and due to be debated on 29 November 2016. The Bill has already been considered by the Parliament’s Transportation and Utilities Committee, which recommended enacting the reforms. If passed, the amendments are likely to commence across all states and territories (other than Western Australia and the Northern Territory) in late 2017.

Queensland is the host jurisdiction for the Heavy Vehicle National Law. If passed, the amendments will automatically roll out to other participating jurisdictions by way of each state and territory applying the uniform law.

When will the changes commence?

Once passed, the amendments will commence on a date set by proclamation. While this date has not yet been fixed, the National Transport Commission has proposed an implementation period of 12 months before the amendments come into effect to allow regulators and industry participants to educate themselves and their staff and to put in place systems to ensure compliance.

How is the regime changing?

The proposed amendments significantly alter the current regime and impose a ‘primary duty’ on all parties in the chain of responsibility to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of road transport activities. The new provisions also impose significant maximum penalties, comparable to those in other national safety laws. The hierarchy of penalties is based on the nature of each risk and the actual harm or damage caused. The most serious category of breach attracts a maximum penalty of $300,000 or five years’ prison (or both) for individuals and $3 million for corporations.

The proposed new provisions are lengthy and complex. A more comprehensive bulletin discussing the new provisions is available here.