Ref: MG/SF/GG23081

8 December 2023
Don Hogben & Michael McCarthy National Transport Commission Level 3, 600 Bourke Street

By Email: Don Hogben - & Michael McCarthy -

Dear Mr Hogben & Mr McCarthy

Re: Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) Reform – Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (C-RIS)

AgForce is a peak organisation representing Queensland’s cane, cattle, grain and sheep, wool & goat producers. The cane, beef, broadacre cropping and sheep, wool & goat industries in Queensland generated around $10.4 billion in on-farm value of production in 2021-22. AgForce’s purpose is to advance sustainable agribusiness and strives to ensure the long-term growth, viability, competitiveness and profitability of these industries. Over 6,000 farmers, individuals and businesses provide support to AgForce through membership. Our members own and manage around 55 million hectares, or a third of the state’s land area. Queensland producers provide high-quality food and fibre to Australian and overseas consumers, contribute significantly to the social fabric of regional, rural and remote communities, as well as deliver stewardship of the state’s natural environment.

AgForce welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback to the National Transport Commission (NTC)’s Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (C-RIS), as part of the Heavy Vehicle National Law Review, focusing on fatigue management, heavy vehicle access and details for a national audit standard.

Our member views are noted below; in addition, AgForce has contributed to the NFF submission and is supportive of their submission which should be read in conjunction with ours. Where any divergence views exist, AgForce’s stated position is to be preferred.

AgForce continues to support a national road access strategy and action plan for freight and supply chain harmonisation that improves and addresses transport critical areas; a system that works to improve transport efficiencies, reduce unnecessary regulatory burden, lower cost of transport and improve productivity for Queensland’s agricultural industry.

Queensland’s extensive geographical distances means our primary producers are dependent on road transport for freight and logistics of product along the supply chain, with many of our members being owner operators or conduct business as contractors.

Fatigue Management
Fatigue management and regulation can be found in most jurisdictions, with the responsibility for safety retained by state and territories. Fatigue management without verifiable scientific measurements remains a complex matter. AgForce sees merit in digital reporting, streamline of processes, removal of penalties, allowing for an election of preferred reporting process (Options, 1a, 1b).
AgForce opposes the NTC’s fatigue management reform options ie, inclusion for drivers of vehicles under 12 tonnes, possible loss of the current work diary exemption for local work drivers or loss of ‘lite’ work diary for lower-risk (agricultural) operators (AgForce does not support options, 2a, 2c, 2d, or 2e).

We oppose moves to digital fatigue reporting where primary producers are in geographical regions with poor connectivity or unequal access to the internet, leaving them disadvantaged compared to commercial operators.

AgForce has concerns regarding any changes to fatigue management, reporting or audits systems that will disadvantage the ‘primary industry’ transport sector operators unable to transfer the increase cost of transport, compared to commercial operators with competitive scale and business synergies capable of cost transfers to producers and consumers. AgForce does not support measures that increases cost of Ag production, reduce competitiveness or productivity.

Further consultation and investigation may be required to assess the cost benefit of implementation of these measures and the impact on agricultural production systems, especially in jurisdictions with vast geographical areas.

AgForce recommends:
An extension to the 100-kilometre driver base, an alignment consistent with local area network – transport points of access ie, base to depot and return points.
AgForce supports more proportionate responses to minor work, rest and administration offences, for low-risk operators that do not impact safety. A system used to improve safety and compliance, rather a penalty system to raise enforcement rates or revenue or create greater administrative burdens and resourcing costs on the regulator, courts, etc.
AgForce generally supports the option for a review of fines for ‘trifling’ offences (3c) or application of driver defence for minor administration errors, (3d), we support formal warnings(3e), but are cautious of any tracking, risk base classifications or monitoring systems.

AgForce is opposed to option 3b, in its current format. However, will consider further investigation of a rating or demerit system for operators, that may assist to improve safety, with appropriate responses by the regulator and enforcement framework.
We generally support formal education in lieu of fines, where the system is not abused or used as means to avoid penalties or safety compliance (3f).

AgForce Recommends:
Enforcement conducted by suitable trained and qualified officers that understand all aspects of heavy vehicle transport and understand transport operations in unique landscape, ideally managed through our National Regulator

Road Access Limits
AgForce supports reforms considered in the C-RIS to expand general ‘access limits’ where acknowledgement of the greatest mass and dimension limits across jurisdictions and makes allowances for new modernised heavy vehicle imports over time. In this instance increasing mass limits from CML to GML and recognising HML or a 5% increase in mass; an increase in overall length and height for general access will improve efficiencies and aid in a reduction of re-occurring permitting needs and gazetting (Options, 4b, 5a and 6a).
AgForce continues to support and recommend use of proven road transport methods and systems, such as Grains Harvest Scheme or Livestock Volumetric Loading and animal welfare management that is applicable across jurisdictions or is mutually recognised and respected, as acknowledged in the discussion paper.

National Audit Standards (NAS)
AgForce’s preference is for NAS prescribed in primary law only and no requirements in regulation, with the Regulator (NHVR) responsible for developing requirements and maintaining the flexibility to develop the NAS guidelines and operational detail, (7a). This would suit the agricultural sector as our needs are often dependant on geographical location and would allow the NHVR to develop standards nuanced to service operators in the agricultural sector.

AgForce Recommends:
  1. NAS parties are suitably qualified to conduct audit inspections, operators have right to appeal or seek review by a tribunal (or similar body, not a court), ability to improve audit history or compliance ratings. Consideration must be given for smaller business operators and primary producers with heavy vehicles in remote areas due to the huge distances involved, where there is limited capacity to meet the same audit requirements as compared to commercial operators in urban locations. While AgForce encourages open and transparent communication with the NTC, AgForce is concerned that the cost to implement safety outcomes or enforcement rates will result in higher resourcing and compliance costs for transport operators, leading to increased costs of agricultural production, and ultimately, higher cost of food for consumers.
AgForce thanks the NTC for the opportunity to provide input to the National Heavy Vehicle Law Review. If you have any questions or require further information regarding this submission, please contact Sam Forzisi, AgForce Policy Director, by email: or mobile: 0499 960 006.

Yours sincerely
Michael Guerin
Chief Executive Officer