In September 2011, the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI) was established which brings together Commonwealth, State, Territory and New Zealand Ministers with responsibility for transport and infrastructure issues, as well as the Australian Local Government Association. SCOTI directed that nationally consistent penalties be set in the Heavy Vehicle National Law. The intent was to promote consistency, equity and fairness in enforcement across the country.
The Heavy Vehicle National Law Penalties Framework Review Consultation Draft (HVNL) was released in January 2014. This Review, produced by the National Transport Commission seeks input from the industry. The aim is to achieve consistency in the penalties regime and compliance and enforcement under the HVNL.
For example, should a trucker be solely liable if he/she is instructed to drive a vehicle that he/she knows is faulty? Why should the same offence have differing fines because of where the offence occurred? What would the corporate contribution be for any penalties? It seeks to ask questions and provide submissions on the following:
Relativities between laws
For example: are the penalties attaching to heavy vehicle offences proportionate to the penalties attaching to light vehicle offences and commensurate with offences attaching to other transport laws such as rail.
Relativities within the law
The review will consider if the penalties attaching to various offences in the HVNL are internally coherent and consistent, particularly with regards to mass, dimension, loading, speeding and fatigue offences.
For example: whether the maximum court-imposable maximum penalties attaching to the offences are fair and reasonable with regards to broader questions of road safety and equity, and to the actual level of penalty imposed by the courts.
Use of infringements
For example: whether the offences are appropriate with regard to road safety and equity considerations.
For example: it is fair and reasonable to attach the corporate multiplier of fines to all companies, regardless of size.
Executive Officer Liability
For example: is it fair and reasonable to attach to executive officer liability.
Although this review will not necessarily change the law, it will provide more clarity so that the drivers will know the repercussions of their breaching the law. Hopefully, the Executive Officer Liability will hold responsible those decision makers for offences where liable and will effect a change in the industry where it seems the only ones held responsible have been those on the front line driving.