The chain of responsibility provisions in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) are currently under review.

In July 2015, the National Transport Commission (NTC) published a discussion paper entitled Primary Duties for Chain of Responsibility Parties and Executive Officer Liability. The report proposes a number of options for reform including:

  1. imposing a primary duty on operators, prime contractors and employers to ensure the safety of road transport operations;
  2. imposing role specific duties on other chain of responsibility parties to reflect their responsibilities and influence on road transport operations;
  3. replacing the standard of care presently required by the HVNL of 'all reasonable steps' with 'so far as is reasonably practicable';
  4. increasing the penalties for a breach of the HVNL to better align with comparable offences under the model WHS and Rail Safety National Law; and
  5. clarifying the relationship between the chain of reasonability provisions under the HVNL and other work health safety legislation.

Stakeholder submissions on the draft proposals in the report closed on 7 August 2015. Ministers will consider the NTC's policy recommendations in November 2015. Subject to the ministers' agreement, a Bill to amend the HVNL will then be prepared for ministers' consideration in May 2016.

Gillian Bristow presented to the NatRoad national conference in August 2015 discussing chain of responsibility legislation and the proposals for reform. If you would like a copy of the slides from that presentation, please email Gillian (

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