Roadblock to Chain of Responsibility Laws on Roadworthiness ?

In early 2015 submissions to the National Transport Commission (NTC) largely illustrated the transport industry’s backing for the introduction of a uniform national heavy vehicle roadworthiness system. The NTC called for submissions to their Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) to aid in the development and assessment of a number of regulatory options and their potential impacts on a national roadworthiness system.

Following this the NTC  has recently issued an options paper as part of the ongoing review of the chain of responsibility provisions in the new Heavy Vehicle National Laws.

While there seemed to be widespread support for the introduction of Chain of Responsibility laws into a national roadworthiness system it appears there is major disagreement between some States on what this uniform roadworthiness should look like. It has been reported that the three states of New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia have strong differences in opinion on the matter. In terms of their current modus operandi states differ substantially on their roadworthiness practises. For example New South Wales perform an inspection on every truck every year (though not a full roadworthiness inspection) while currently Victoria undertakes almost no inspections to speak of.

Minister Mullighan speaking on ABC radio has confirmed that South Australia is still committed to the introduction of a Chain of Responsibility laws into a national roadworthiness regime. He indicated that South Australia and New South Wales enjoy similar commitment and that both states “wholeheartedly support introducing more stringent requirements on their heavy vehicle industry.”

On being questioned on who is delaying the introduction of the system the Minister mentioned some vested interests in some parts of the industry that don’t want to see its introduction as they view it as further red tape resulting in additional costs to their business.

Those against the introduction of Chain of Responsibility laws into a national roadworthiness system have negatively pointed to the focus on maintenance and brought up that poor maintenance is only responsible for 1-5% of heavy vehicle crashes. They believe a more predominant effort should be exercised in fixing driver-related issues, cargo problems and the absence of cruise control which they argue are more pressing safety matters.