The Master Code

The Australian Trucking Association and the Australian Logistics Council have formed a joint venture entity to prepare a Registered Industry Code of Practice (Code) for compliance with the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

A Code is a document that is registered under the HVNL.  It must provide guidance to industry participants on how they can comply with the HVNL, including guidance on CoR risk assessment and the design and implementation of control and performance monitoring measures.

The HVNL provides that a Court can look at a Code to determine the general standard of industry knowledge on hazard and risk identification and control and what is reasonably practicable in the circumstances to avoid or minimise those risks.  That is, a Code provides legally defensible evidence of what risks parties in the Chain should be addressing and the range of suitable ways to deal with them.

However, a Code will always be a general guide only and cannot tell every supply chain participant precisely what to do in every circumstance.  So, supply chain participants will still need to develop and implement their own systems and practices that fit within the guidance contained in a Code in order to get the defence benefits provided by a Code.

Compliance accreditation schemes, such as TruckSafe, help to fill that gap and provide supply chain participants with a compliance system and working procedures that help address the risks and other matters identified in a Code.  Compliance with an accreditation scheme can therefore form part of your evidence of compliance with a Code and, therefore, the HVNL.

The TruckSafe scheme is aligned with the Code to ensure that TruckSafe accreditation would help provide valuable evidence of an accredited operator’s compliance with the Code and therefore the HVNL.

Chain of Responsibility

The Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws cam into effect on 1 October 2018.  Under the new CoR laws:


    All parties in the Chain will have a proactive and non-delegable duty to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the safety of their transport activities


    All Executives (Directors, Partners, Owners) will have a proactive and non-delegable duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that their business complies with its duty


    All businesses will be required to have in place a compliance management framework, including:

    • compliance policies
    • working procedures
    • awareness/training programs
    • compliance clauses in all supply chain contracts
    • compliance performance monitoring and response/remedy procedures
    • Executive compliance reporting

    Maximum penalties will increase to $3 million for corporations and $300,000 plus up to 5 years in jail for individuals


    An incident or accident does not need to occur in order for you to be investigated, prosecuted and fined.


    Declare potential conflicts of interest

    With the new higher standard of obligation and massively increased potential penalties, compliance is more important than ever.  In particular for supply chain parties up and down the chain, it is more important than ever to ensure that transport contractors and subcontractors have a suitable compliance framework in place in order to ensure that they are not a compliance risk and the weak point in the Chain.

    For transport operators seeking to distinguish their business from the competition and for other parties in the Chain without sufficient technical expertise or resources to assess the compliance of transport operators, accreditation can be a valuable compliance assurance tool.

    A past industry study1 has shown that heavy vehicles accredited under the two major accreditation schemes, including TruckSafe:

    “…are, on average, significantly safer than vehicles that were not accredited.  The calculated difference in average crash rates was substantial with vehicles accredited to the schemes having between ½ and ¾ fewer crashes on average than non-accredited vehicles.”

    That study also concluded that:

    “…operators improved through the process of becoming accredited. An analysis of insurance data found that the claims rate in the 2 years after TruckSafe accreditation was 57% lower than during the 2 years before”.

    The study found that, as part of going through the accreditation process, businesses adopted more proactive management structures, which lead to improved safety outcomes and a range of productivity and costs improvements.

    The above benefits are equally applicable to both the transport operators who enrol their heavy vehicles in accreditation schemes and the principal contractors/customers/consignors who deal with them, so a true win-win.

    More information on the Master Code can be found here.

    1 Analysis of the Safety Benefits of Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Schemes, Austroads (May 2008).

    Credit: The information provided on this page has been provided courtesy of Nathan Cecil, Partner (Transport), Holding Redlich lawyers.