Heavy Vehicle National Law Process in Disarray

Heavy Vehicle National Law process in disarray

A discussion paper released by the National Transport Commission and the reaction to it from the trucking industry associations is leaving the Heavy Vehicle National Law process in disarray as the proposals are slammed as totally impractical.

The Australian Trucking Association says it is consulting its members urgently about its future engagement with the Heavy Vehicle National Law review process.

“The review started in November 2018,” said David Smith, ATA Chair. “The ATA and its members have spent hundreds of hours drafting submissions and engaging in meetings. But the review has not produced a single legislative amendment that could be introduced into parliament.

“Despite ministers’ commitment to simplify the HVNL and focus on productivity and safety, the NTC’s highest consultation priority with industry seems to be the operational details of fatigue management.

“The NTC’s proposal for the fatigue management general schedule would reduce the income of a typical local delivery driver by about $24,000 per year. It would make it impossible for general schedule drivers to operate between capital cities.

“Despite the catastrophic impact of the proposal on the industry’s productivity and the incomes of its workers, the NTC circulated this proposal for just one week of industry consultation.

“It is not good enough. The review has failed.”

NatRoad is calling for the current HNVL reform process to be scrapped and restarted. With its CEO, Warren Clark, calling the process directionless and unfocussed.

“Turn off the barbecue͘,” said Warren. “It’s cooked͘, it’s not progressing the reform agenda in any meaningful way. 

“The National Transport Commission is supposed to simplify the HVNL to improve productivity and safety instead it’s fiddling with the operational details of fatigue management.”

According to the discussion paper, scientific evidence suggests that standard hours should not exceed 12 hours on-duty and international studies found some aspects of driving performance deteriorated after 8-9 hours driving. This paper asks industry their views on whether standard work hours should be reduced, and rest hours increased to better manage fatigue in heavy vehicle drivers and whether the revised structure is practical and feasible.

Key points of the paper are:

  • Reduce maximum working hours from 72 hours to 60 hours in a 7-day period
  • Minimum 8 hours rest break (currently 7 hours)
  • Maximum 4 hours continuous work before taking a rest (currently 5.25 hours)
  • Cease driving 14 hours after the end of a sleep break (even if the maximum hours worked in 24 hours has not been used)
  • Provide flexibility to operators to assist in managing unscheduled/unforeseen events

Heavy Vehicle National Law process in disarray