As set out in an earlier blog article, a majority of submissions to the National Transport Commission’s Duties Review Discussion Paper (the NTC Discussion Paper), received in January and February 2015, have provided tentative support to amending chain of responsibility legislation in order to mirror the work health and safety legislative approach.

The NTC had been asked to investigate the development of broader duties within the chain of responsibility legislation which led directly to the NTC Discussion Paper issued in November 2014 and the receipt of the submissions.

The NTC’s investigation was intended to feed into the work undertaken by the Chain of Responsibility Taskforce set up by COAG to review the Heavy Vehicle National Law’s chain of responsibility (CoR) and executive liability provisions.

The Taskforce were given until May 2015 to present the preferred approach to CoR duties to the Ministers on the Transport and Infrastructure Council of COAG (TIC).

Following its meeting on 22 May 2015, TIC released a Communique which stated that it had been briefed by the NTC and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator in relation to the heavy vehicle roadworthiness program and that it agreed to “…bring forward consideration of a package of measures to expedite national consistency and compliance improvements for decision in November 2015. The package will include measures regarding chain of responsibility duties for vehicle maintenance and scheduled inspections…”. No mention of the CoR and executive liability provisions review is made.

However, a number of industry representatives were present at the TIC meeting on Friday including the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA).

The ALC released a statement on 22 May 2015 in which it stated that “…jurisdictions are continuing to develop detailed policy recommendations for TIC in relation (sic) duties under the Heavy Vehicle National Law”. The ALC went on to state that any potential changes should be subject to a rigorous Regulatory Impact Statement to ensure that “costs associated with any future reform do not outweigh any possible benefits”.

Interestingly, the ALRTA reported on 8 May 2015 that “…TISOC (the meeting of heads of transport departments that precedes Ministerial meetings) met in March and had not agreed on proposed changes to the duties under chain of responsibility. Apparently NSW has sought to expand the scope of duties and a compromise has since been reached.”

Although the decision is still outstanding, TISOC meets on 18 September 2015 and the next TIC meeting is due on 6 November 2015 at which time there may be a decision about the approach to the Heavy Vehicle National Law’s chain of responsibility provisions and whether they will be changed.

In the meantime, it seems that the wait for a final answer as to whether the CoR provisions will adopt a WHS approach in future will continue.