Further movement in the Heavy Vehicle National Laws (HVNL) has taken place with the Heavy Vehicle National Law Amendment Bill 2015 being passed by the Queensland Parliament on 16 September 2015.
As the host jurisdiction, changes made by Queensland to the Schedule to the Heavy Vehicle National Law Act 2012 (Qld) (which contains the HVNL) (the Queensland Act) apply throughout Australia (except WA and NT at this time). In Victoria the Heavy Vehicle National Law Application Act 2013 (Vic) makes it clear that the Schedule to the Queensland Act as in force from time to time applies as a law of Victoria. This means that changes can be made in Queensland without the need for further changes to be made in Victoria.
The explanatory memorandum to the Bill makes clear that the changes are aimed at:
- Implementation of electronic work diaries (EWDs) for fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle drivers to record their work and rest hours. Although EWDs were recognised in the HVNL none had previously been approved. The EWD-related amendments allow time to be counted to the minute (not in 15 minute blocks) although where a driver has exceeded their driving hours by 8 minutes or less in a 24 hour period there will be no penalty (although the time needs to be offset over the 7 and 14 day work periods). It should be noted that drivers can continue to use written work diaries.
- Harmonising penalties to achieve consistency and equity for offences within the HVNL.
- Reduce administrative or regulatory burden by, for example, excluding nominated minor vehicle modifications from the requirement to be approved by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
- Clarifying a number of definitions in the existing HVNL and stating the obligations of responsible entities, operators and drivers with respect to complying container weight declarations.
- Creating new offences including tampering with a vehicle modification plate or label affixed to a heavy vehicle and driving or operating a restricted access (heavy) vehicle without a required mass or dimension exemption.