The Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 was passed late yesterday evening, on Parliament's last sitting date for this year. The amendments are set to commence across all states and territories (other than Western Australia and the Northern Territory) in mid 2018.

The Bill was passed by Queensland Parliament (as the host jurisdiction for the Heavy Vehicle National Law). 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?

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

Cooper Grace Ward will be hosting a webinar on 31 January 2017 to discuss the new provisions and the effects on the road transport industry and other participants in the supply chain. Click here to find out more or to register. Further specialised half day training courses will also be offered in early 2017.

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