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13 May 2011

Proposed national heavy vehicle laws: the promise of a simple(r) life?

The National Transport Commission of Australia (NTC) is developing model laws aimed at harmonising Australian legislation with respect to heavy vehicles (with gross vehicle mass of over 4.5 tonnes). New national legislation is anticipated to come into force on 1 January 2013.

The proposed Heavy Vehicle National Laws (HVNL) are aimed to do away with the current myriad of disparate state and territory laws concerning heavy vehicles so that drivers, owners, operators and those in the chain of responsibility for heavy vehicles are not subject to a completely different set of rules, regulations and requirements when crossing a state or territory border.

Chapter 12 of the HVNL will also set up a “one-stop-shop” in the form of a Heavy Vehicle National Regulator, whose role is to deal with road managers and customers as set out in the diagram below.







The HVNL will be an independent statutory authority empowered to deal with:

  • certain national strategies, policies, processes and standards;
  • delivering functions and services (including issuing permits and notices);
  • the chain of responsibility;
  • the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS);
  • decision-making (right to be given reasons and to challenge decisions);
  • mutual recognition by States and Territories for matters such as vehicle inspections and driver standards for pilot/escort vehicles;
  • issues concerning accreditation;
  • the States and Territories for the delivery of functions and services by relevant road managers such as local councils; and
  • vehicle conditions generally.

The HVNL will cover:

  • heavy vehicle registrations;
  • chain of responsibility laws;
  • mass, dimensions and load requirements;
  • road access for heavier and larger vehicles;
  • speeding compliance laws;
  • fatigue laws;
  • accreditation;
  • compliance and enforcement; and
  • reviews and appeals.

However, HVNL will not alter current dangerous goods legislation and driver licensing legislation.

The NTC is still in the process of consulting with industry in relation to the proposed legislation. The expected commencement date is 1 January 2013. More information is available on the NTC website at

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This publication is for information only and is not legal advice. You should obtain advice that is specific to your circumstances and not rely on this publication as legal advice. If there are any issues you would like us to advise you on arising from this publication, please let us know.

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