Towards an updated Heavy Vehicle National Law

We're working on behalf of transport ministers to deliver an updated law for heavy vehicles (including trucks and buses) in Australia. The goal is to simplify the law to enhance safety while delivering industry productivity and flexibility.

Latest news

The reforms to Heavy Vehicle National Law Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (C-RIS) has now concluded its public consultation phase.

The C-RIS was prepared to test three specific policy changes aligned with the reforms endorsed by Ministers in August 2022. Stakeholders were invited to explore reforms related to fatigue management, access, and accreditation schemes.

Industry, governments, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and police contributed valuable input across these three critical areas, all of which were assessed through the C-RIS.

We appreciate the engagement of those who participated during the consultation period, providing their views to help shape policy options for Australia’s transport ministers.

Your views will help us finalise policy options for Australia’s transport ministers to consider as they decide the future HVNL and its regulations.

Update - a meeting of Australia's transport ministers in December recognised the complexity in drafting the revised law. In response to industry feedback the updated law will be presented to Ministers in late 2024.

Submissions

Please note, as of January 2024 the NTC is progressively uploading recent submissions received.

Where requested by the author, individual submissions will remain confidential.

Reforms to Heavy Vehicle National Law Consultation Regulation Impact Statement

Published on 08 Oct 2023

The purpose of the C-RIS is to consider options for future improvements to the Heavy Vehicle National Law, in line with the package of reforms agreed by Ministers in August 2022.

Closed on 24 Nov 2023

Key Documents

High-Level Regulatory Framework

Industry and governments worked together to achieve broad support for a package of reforms that tackle the issues that are getting in the way of heavy vehicle safety and productivity. The package was approved by Ministers in August 2022.

In June 2023, transport ministers endorsed 14 recommendations detailed in the Heavy Vehicle National Law High-Level Regulatory Framework Decision Regulation Impact Statement (D-RIS). 

These recommendations form the foundation of the future law that will deliver more effective, flexible regulation, support improvements to safety and productivity and streamline governance and administration.

A shorter explanatory document is also available.

The current C-RIS focuses on reform package policy areas that were not considered in the D-RIS, but required to change the structure and design of the law to create a modern platform for future reforms to HVNL policy.

Package of reforms

The package of reforms approved by Ministers in August 2022 has two parts:

Part 1 - Reforms to be covered by the updated law.
Part 2 - Reforms that will sit outside the updated law.

Through consultation and engagement with industry and governments, the review identified reform options that could improve the effectiveness of the HVNL by looking for new ways to achieve regulatory objectives. 

The updated law will streamline fatigue management, enable a risk-based regulatory approach and reduce administrative burden while improving safety. 

Non-legislative reforms, currently being progressed by nominated state and territory governments and lead transport agencies, include a new national system to automate approvals for heavy vehicle access.

Work on the updated HVNL and other reforms is being overseen by some of the most senior transport officials in Australia.

They will have a crucial role in guiding the development of the updated law and oversight of progress in delivering the reforms.

The updated HVNL

While the HVNL has improved road safety and laid the foundation for a streamlined national system for heavy vehicles, it has faced criticism for being overly prescriptive, inflexible, and complex. 

The HVNL Review conducted by the National Transport Commission identified several overarching problems with the structure and design of HVNL, which present a barrier to an effective and flexible regulatory environment.

The updated law will:

  • be less prescriptive and provide a flexible, risk-based regulatory framework to ensure the safe and productive operation of heavy vehicles on Australian roads
  • empower industry and government to take advantage of future innovation and technology opportunities
  • improve both safety and productivity.

Listening to stakeholders

The NTC is developing the updated law using insights gained from industry and government engagement undertaken by the NTC, and industry engagement by Mr Ken Kanofsky in 2022, as well through the NTC’s regular consultation with key industry and government stakeholder advisory groups.

The updated law will be based on:

  • extensive consultation with industry and governments
  • research into best practice.

NTC will continue engaging with industry and government as the updated law and its regulations are written.

Proposed features of the updated law

A simpler more flexible law
Simplifying the law will give flexibility for operators wanting to innovate, and certainty for operators wanting simplicity.

More flexible regulatory framework
Prescriptive obligations for parties will be moved down the legislative chain so that the law can adapt quickly to changing needs while taking an outcomes-driven approach.

Improve road network access
Ensuring the law supports improvements to road network access systems and processes.

Fatigue management
Simplified fatigue management without compromising on safety. A risk based regulatory approach that provides industry with clarity of their obligations and fairness in enforcement.

Duties and driver health
Clarifying the primary duty and parties covered by the chain of responsibility.

Codes of Practice
A more, flexible and responsive Code of Practice mechanism to enable the Regulator to guide industry on how to meet the primary duty and other obligations under the law.

Better operator certification
A more comprehensive operator certification scheme that can be expanded over time and provide flexibility for certified operators. A new national auditing standard, with measures to reduce the need for multiple audits.

Technology and data
An adaptable technology and data framework to foster smarter technology investment that encourages innovation, enables uptake of emerging technology and provides industry with certainty through a certification mechanism.

More information

If you’d like to express interest in the program, or ask us a question about our work, we’d like to hear from you.

Contact us

Project manager Don Hogben
Contact email dhogben@ntc.gov.au