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Enforcing the Heavy Vehicle National Law in QLD

The HVNL provides a single national law for the regulation of heavy vehicle operations across most Australian jurisdictions, except Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

The purpose of this article is to offer clear guidance and insights on achieving compliance with Australia’s Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) in aid of decided cases in some of Australia’s court jurisdictions.

Why does HVNL Compliance Matter?

Compliance with the Heavy Vehicle National Law is crucial for heavy vehicle operators because of the following reasons:

  1. Safety: HVNL ensures public safety by regulating vehicles exceeding 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass. By adhering to HVNL standards, operators contribute to safer roads and reduce risks.
  2. Environmental Impact: Managing heavy vehicles’ impact on the environment is essential. HVNL helps mitigate environmental harm caused by transport activities.
  3. Infrastructure Management: Proper compliance aids in preserving road infrastructure. Well-maintained roads benefit everyone and enhance overall transportation efficiency.
  4. Industry Productivity: HVNL promotes industry productivity by setting guidelines for efficient and safe operations. Compliant practices lead to smoother logistics and better business outcomes.
  5. Chain of Responsibility: HVNL emphasizes shared responsibility across the supply chain. All parties must minimize risks associated with transport activities, ensuring safety for everyone involved.


In summary, HVNL compliance fosters a consistent and safe environment for heavy vehicle drivers and operators, benefiting both individuals and the industry in general.

Overview of HVNL and Its Regulatory Framework

The Heavy Vehicle National Law is supported by 5 regulations which consist of:

  1. General Regulations;
  2. Fatigue Management Regulations;
  3. Mass, Dimension, Loading Regulations;
  4. Registration Regulations; and
  5. Vehicle Standards Regulations.
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Key Features and Requirements under HVNL

Under the Heavy Vehicle National Law, there are several key provisions and requirements that businesses need to adhere to. Let’s delve into the essential aspects:

  1. Primary Duty: Parties in the chain of responsibility(CoR) must ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the safety of their transport activities. This includes activities related to the use of heavy vehicles on roads, such as consigning, packing, loading, and receiving goods. CoR compliance policies, working procedures, induction processes, and performance reporting for executive officers are crucial components of this duty.
  2. CoR Compliance Policy and Procedures:
    • Develop and implement a CoR compliance policy and working procedures within your business and with other relevant parties in the supply chain.
    • The policy should outline CoR obligations within your supply chain and how each party should address these obligations.
    • Provide a copy of the policy to all other parties in the chain.
  3. Awareness and Training:
    • Ensure that everyone in your business understands their HVNL obligations.
    • Roll out your compliance policy and procedures to CoR-facing staff, subcontractors, and suppliers.
    • Regularly refresh awareness and training, and induct new staff and contractors.
  4. Supply Chain Engagement Documents and Contracts:
    • Include CoR compliance provisions in your supply chain engagement documents and contracts.
    • Legally reinforce your CoR compliance policy and procedures wherever possible.


Remember that CoR compliance is essential even if no incident or accident occurs. These practices contribute to safer heavy vehicle operations on our roads.

Decided Cases on HVNL

GrainCorp Operations Limited contravenes the section 26H of the Heavy Vehicle National Regulation. As a result, the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) issued an improvement notice citing its contraventions of HVNL regulations. GrainCorp contested this through an internal review.

The Review Decision emphasized GrainCorp’s responsibility as a loading manager to control over-mass heavy vehicles on public roads. DTMR directed GrainCorp to implement a system to reduce vehicle mass to comply with axle group mass limits.

The Tribunal’s review focused on whether GrainCorp had breached its primary duty under the HVNL and asked questions regarding safety risks, GrainCorp’s knowledge, available alternatives, and associated costs.

In the absence of evidence demonstrating practicable alternatives for GrainCorp to avoid overloading incidents, the Tribunal revoked the improvement notice, emphasizing the necessity of identifying valid bases for regulatory enforcement under the HVNL.

In this case, NM & AA Foley Contracting Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in Holland Park Magistrates Court to 37 charges of violating Section 26 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law Act 2012 (Qld) for failing to meet safety duties in its transport activities. The violations included exceeding regulated hours and non-compliance with fatigue regulations. The court ordered a fine of $1,200,000 against NM & AA Foley Contracting Pty Ltd.

Heavy Vehicle National Law

The case involves Mr. Eden, an employee of Kalari, driving a prime mover carrying a substantial quantity of prilled ammonium nitrate that caused explosions and subsequent damage to the State-controlled road and a rail bridge owned by Queensland Rail. The plaintiffs in the actions claimed the costs of repair for the damage caused.

The court considered various statutory provisions, including the Transport Operations Act, Heavy Vehicle National Law, and the Insurance Contracts Act.

The court dismissed the applications for summary judgment, emphasizing that the issues involving the construction of exclusion clauses, statutory provisions, and their application to disputed facts warranted a trial. The judge highlighted the complexity of legal arguments and the presence of disputed facts, indicating that a full hearing may be justified.

Moreover, court discussed the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) in the context of the case. The defendants, Kalari and Mr. Eden, raised defenses related to the HVNL, specifically citing sections 89, 223, and 228 of the HVNL. Dornoch, the third party, argued that the breach of these HVNL provisions, along with the various provisions concerning the transportation of sodium nitrate, meant that the transportation was not “in accordance with all legal state or federal legislation,” triggering the application of exclusion clause 17 in the insurance policy.

Additionally, the court considered the defendants’ plea that the prime mover was on fire before Mr. Eden drove it from the road, which Dornoch argued indicated that the vehicle must have been “unsafe” and therefore being driven in breach of section 89 of the HVNL. The court’s consideration of these arguments demonstrates the relevance and significance of the HVNL in the case.

GJK is appealing her conviction for possessing suspicious property following a June 2020 incident in Townsville. She was fined $1,000 and the $9,610 seized was given to the state, with a conviction recorded. Grounds for appeal include errors in the legality of the vehicle stop and search, and the unreasonable verdict lacking evidence support. Police surveilled GJK’s vehicle near a location associated with drug activity, leading to a search where the money was found. The magistrate’s decision to deem the vehicle stop lawful was wrong, resulting in the successful appeal, overturning the conviction and forfeiture order, with costs to be determined.

This case does not technically deals with violations of HVNL but it specifically mentions that a police officer may stop a heavy vehicle, if the purpose for stopping the vehicle is HVNL(Q) compliance or enforcement among others.

Penalties for Non-Compliance with HVNL

Non-compliance with the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) can result in significant penalties. These penalties are designed to ensure safety and adherence to regulations within the heavy vehicle industry. Here are some potential consequences for non-compliance:

  1. Fines: Individuals or companies found in violation of HVNL provisions may face monetary fines. The amount of the fine can vary based on the severity of the offense.
  2. Demerit Points: In some cases, drivers may accumulate demerit points on their licenses for HVNL-related offenses. Accumulating too many points can lead to license suspension or disqualification.
  3. Vehicle Impoundment: Authorities have the power to impound heavy vehicles that do not comply with HVNL requirements. This can disrupt business operations and result in additional costs.
  4. Business Disruption: Non-compliance can lead to disruptions in business operations, delays, and financial losses. Companies may face reputational damage as well.
  5. Prosecution: Serious breaches of HVNL can result in legal action, including criminal prosecution. This may lead to fines, imprisonment, or other legal consequences.
  6. Loss of Accreditation: Accredited operators who fail to comply with HVNL standards risk losing their accreditation, affecting their ability to operate heavy vehicles.


It’s essential for drivers, operators, and businesses to understand and adhere to the HVNL regulations to avoid these penalties.

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Key Takeaways

  • The HVNL is supported by five regulations covering various aspects such as general regulations, fatigue management, mass and dimension, loading regulations, registration, and vehicle standards. Understanding these regulations is essential for businesses to ensure compliance and safe heavy vehicle operations.
  • Compliance with Australia’s Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is critical for ensuring public safety, mitigating environmental impact, preserving infrastructure, enhancing industry productivity, and promoting shared responsibility across the supply chain.
  • Adhering to HVNL standards contributes to safer roads, reduced risks, and smoother logistics, benefiting both individuals and the industry at large.
  • Non-compliance with HVNL regulations can lead to severe penalties including fines, demerit points, vehicle impoundment, business disruption, prosecution, and loss of accreditation. It’s crucial for drivers, operators, and businesses to adhere to HVNL regulations to avoid these penalties and maintain safe and compliant heavy vehicle operations.

Key Takeaways

What is the purpose of Australia's Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) compliance, and why does it matter?

HVNL compliance is crucial for heavy vehicle operators to ensure public safety, mitigate environmental impact, preserve infrastructure, enhance industry productivity, and promote shared responsibility across the supply chain. By adhering to HVNL standards, operators contribute to safer roads, reduced risks, and smoother logistics, benefiting both individuals and the industry at large.

HVNL is supported by five regulations covering general regulations, fatigue management, mass and dimension, loading regulations, registration, and vehicle standards.

Parties in the CoR must ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the safety of their transport activities. This includes developing and implementing CoR compliance policies and procedures, ensuring awareness and training among staff, subcontractors, and suppliers, and including CoR compliance provisions in supply chain engagement documents and contracts.

Penalties for non-compliance with HVNL can include fines, accumulation of demerit points on licenses, vehicle impoundment, business disruption, prosecution, and loss of accreditation for operators.

About the Author

Allison Inskip

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