HVNL Reform: Slow but steady progress

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There has been some progress in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) Reform process, which of course aims to significantly improve heavy vehicle productivity, access arrangements, and safety regulations in Australia.

Proposed reforms have been agreed upon by the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory and Victoria.

Non-legislative agency leads have been appointed to implement recommendations and drive the process forward. Here’s a summary of progress:

The Working Group for Expediting the National Access Framework for Heavy Vehicles is being led by NSW and is collecting data on heavy vehicle productivity and infrastructure to produce a three-year forward program for future access improvements. This will identify areas where access can be improved for the road freight industry.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) is the legislative reform lead on this. Its role includes updating the law and relevant supporting documents to clarify the roles of respective government parties and updating ministerial guidelines on access decisions to consider the productivity benefits of an application.

Queensland will coordinate the work, while participating jurisdictions will be responsible for updating documents in their respective jurisdictions. This includes the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and should ensure that the legislative framework matches the reform recommendations and improves productivity and access arrangements.

The NHVR will serve as the lead agency for future recommendations. The Regulator is committed to facilitating productivity improvements without compromising safety, creating and maintaining a national integrated access decision-making process and system, supporting the uptake of safer and higher productivity vehicles, and collaborating with road managers to drive national harmonisation of access.

This will involve working closely with industry stakeholders and road managers to implement changes to enhance productivity while maintaining safety standards.

The Commonwealth, NSW and Tasmania, supported by Austroads’ Freight Taskforce, will set targets to implement upgraded access arrangements within 3-5 years, produce a national implementation plan and provide independent technical advice on interoperability (compatible data standards) requirements. This is meant to ensure that access arrangements are upgraded promptly and work smoothly between different jurisdictions.

Performance Based Standards
Improvements are being promised to the Performance-Based Standards (PBS) Scheme and corresponding access networks, including fatigue detection and distraction technology. The NHVR will facilitate access approval and accept input from participating jurisdictions, while legislative reform leads will be responsible for overlaps with legislative reforms. This should improve the safety and productivity of heavy vehicles through modern technologies and updated standards.

In summary, reform should deliver significant improvements in productivity, access arrangements and safety regulations. NatRoad will keep advocating for practical change grounded in the real-life experience of its Members.

After years of delay, we remain concerned about the pace of the process and the possibility of it becoming bogged down, so if you have questions or feedback please speak to a NatRoad Advisor.