Heavy Vehicle Regulation

Coronavirus response for Heavy Vehicle Industry

Land Transport Industry COVID 19 Response Update

Freight Movement Code for the Domestic Border Controls

On 24 July 2020, the National Cabinet agreed to the Domestic Border Controls—Freight Movements Protocol. National Cabinet also agreed for Transport and Infrastructure Ministers to upgrade the Protocol into an Enforceable Code.

On 7 August 2020, the National Cabinet agreed to the Freight Movement Code for the Domestic Border Controls—Freight Movement Protocol. PDF: 688 KB ReadSpeaker

The enforceable measures in the Freight Movement Code will deliver greater consistency between states and territories when implementing their border controls. State and territory governments remain responsible for implementing and enforcing the Freight Movement Code.

Under the Freight Movement Code, states and territories will mutually recognise COVIDSafe workplans developed by the relevant freight operator. However, mutual recognition may not be possible for all jurisdictions at all times due to different stages of COVID-19 response or recovery. As of 12 October 2020, in practice mutual recognition occurs in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory PDF: 455 KB ReadSpeaker.

Domestic Border Controls—Freight Movements Protocol

On 24 July 2020, the National Cabinet agreed to the Domestic Border Controls—Freight Movements Protocol PDF: 550 KB ReadSpeaker.

The Protocol has been endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and complements existing WHS, fatigue management, health directives and COVIDSafe workplan requirements. Premiers and First Ministers have agreed that state and territory governments will put measures in place to ensure the protocols can be enforced as a code for industry.

Principles for COVID-19 Private Bus Industry Operations

The Australian Government, in partnership with industry and the state and territory governments, has developed Principles for COVID-19 Private Bus Industry Operations PDF: 819 KB ReadSpeaker. The Principles provide clear and consistent guidance for the private coach, tour, and express bus industry to minimize the risks of COVID 19 and have been reviewed by the Department of Health.

The Principles have been designed to underpin the CovidSafe Workplans that each business should implement to manage COVID 19 related risks.

Principles for COVID 19 Public Transport Operations

On 29 May 2020, the National Cabinet agreed to the Principles for COVID 19 Public Transport Operations PDF: 165 KB ReadSpeaker. These principles provide guidance about how public transport can minimize risks from COVID 19 and continue to run as safely as possible for passengers and public transport workers.

State and territory governments remain responsible for the operation of public transport services and jurisdictions will continue to provide guidance for their workforces and passengers. Information about the public transport services run in specific jurisdictions is available on the relevant state or territory government website.

Exemption from closure of non-essential services

On 24 March, the National Cabinet agreed a range of restrictions to non-essential services to apply from 11:59pm (local time) 25 March 2020. This was announced as a part of Australia's response to the coronavirus epidemic. Amongst these restrictions were restaurants and cafes, with exceptions provided for takeaway services and home delivery.

This captured roadhouse and rest stop facilities that provide meal and hygiene facilities for the trucking industry. For road freight to move safely, truck driver health and fatigue needs to be managed with regular and good quality breaks.

On the 30 March 2020, the National Cabinet agreed to exempt these facilities from the non-essential services restrictions and allow these facilities to continue supplying their services to heavy vehicle drivers. Details of the agreed exemption can be found in the Heavy Vehicle Rest Stop Facilities Exemption Requirements PDF: 403 KB ReadSpeaker.

In response to the changing COVID-19 situation, jurisdictions have removed restrictions to non-essential services in accordance with their relevant Roadmap. The removal of these restrictions allows roadhouses and rest stops to resume operations in a COVIDSafe environment. The roadhouse and rest stop exemption from non-essential services will remain in place should these restrictions be reintroduced.

Critical Role of the Freight Sector

On the 25 March 2020, the Transport and Infrastructure Council released a communique about the impacts of the coronavirus on Australia's transport sectors.

On 10 February 2014, the Heavy Vehicle National Law, covering all heavy vehicles over 4.5 tonnes, commenced in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The law covers matters relating to vehicle standards, mass dimensions and loadings, fatigue management, the Intelligent Access Program, heavy vehicle accreditation and on-road enforcement. The ACT has partially implemented the legislation and will proclaim remaining elements of the legislation at a later date. Western Australia and the Northern Territory are not participating in the national reform at this time.

The law is administered by the Brisbane-based National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. The Regulator, in conjunction with the National Transport Commission, continues to progress national heavy vehicle reforms through its forward work program.

Review of Oversize and Overmass (OSOM) Vehicle Arrangements—first and second tranche of recommendations identified for implementation

On 6 April 2019, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, the Hon Michael McCormack MP announced state and territory transport Ministers agreed for 12 of the recommendations from the OSOM Review to be implemented. An additional ten recommendations (tranche 2) were endorsed by the Transport Infrastructure Council (TIC) at its meeting on 2 August 2019.

The 12 Tranche one recommendations prioritised for short-term implementation, have been completed as per the following table.

Rec No.Lead agencyRecommendationAgreed approachStatus
1 Commonwealth Transport and Infrastructure Council (Council) agree that improving safe and timely OSOM access is a national priority, and agree to urgently implement measures to facilitate safe and productive access. The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (the department) to update Transport and Infrastructure Council priorities to include OSOM access. Completed
2 Commonwealth Council agree to direct the department to work collaboratively with relevant partners to prepare a program of implementation and ongoing monitoring. The department to develop Transport and Infrastructure Council reporting framework. Completed
5 NHVR The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) introduce a new communication policy that allows for transport operators to speak to case managers, or equivalent, to clarify questions and progress their application. NHVR to develop revised access permit communication policy. Completed. New policy issued by the NHVR in August 2019.
9 Queensland Council agree to consistent permit durations for period permit to 12 months. States to make system/process changes to allow 12 month period permit. Completed. On 27 June 2019, Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, the Hon Mark Bailey, announced permit durations for Class 1 OSOM vehicles will be extended to 12 months.
10 NHVR Council agree NHVR deliver the National Class Agricultural Vehicle and Combination Notice with three zones throughout each jurisdiction, within six months. Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) jurisdictions and local governments to deliver Class 1 Notice with 5 zones nationally. Completed. The NHVR issued the National Class 1 Agricultural Vehicle and Combination Notice on 30 April 2019.
13 NHVR The Approved Guidelines for Granting Access is fully reinstated with the guiding principles a key feature in access decisions. NHVR to develop revised Access Guidelines (as appropriate). Completed. The Approved Guidelines for Granting Access were updated on 14 November 2019.
All permits have an automatic empty return trip attached as a condition of permit, which do not require a new assessment. NHVR and relevant jurisdictions implement system change to allow applicant to register return trip (separate permit assessment not required). Completed
27 NHVR This Review recommends NHVR maintains a feature list for improvements to the NHVR Portal and prioritises and implements features in a timely manner. This review recommends the feature list include the following:
  1. Introducing business rules on the application page to capture mistakes or out of range values.
  2. Preload information capability, including:
    1. Vehicle configurations and details.
    2. Previously applied for permits with routes and configurations.
    3. Transport operator details.
    4. Reference previous applications with similar routes or configurations.
    5. Link permits – including project specific movement with multiple movements of the same type or route.
  3. Flexibility to:
    1. Make minor changes or amendments to the application without rejection resubmitting a new application.
List multiple prime movers or trailers on permits to allow flexibility.
NHVR to action. Completed. Customers and road managers are able to raise concerns and enhancement requests via the NHVR Portal Hypercare team.

The NHVR Digital Products Group (DPG) presents regular online webinars for both customers and road mangers, to notify and demonstrate the upcoming improvements to the system.

The DPG team have also published a future road map of future enhancements for both customers and road managers to view online.

The NHVR has introduced auto issuance of permit applications, which is reducing the time taken to process and issue permits.
32 NHVR Council agree a project team be set up within NHVR to investigate possible technology solutions for the better management of movement data. NHVR to action — within 3 months. Completed.
34g NHVR NHVR to replicate the Local Government Association of Queensland model for funding Heavy Vehicle Access Liaison Officers, to work with Local Government to deliver proactive approaches for OSOM access NHVR to action within 12 months.

Completed. The South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) is working with the Local Government Association of South Australia and the NHVR to progress this recommendation.

The NHVR have confirmed with all other state authorities and no further action is required.

34j NHVR NHVR to work with road managers to identify pinch points in their network, NHVR to consolidate this information into their Portal and Mapping tools. NHVR to action within 12 months. Completed. The NHVR is continually updating the functionality of its route planner. In addition, the 2019–20 Budget allocated $8.0 million over two years to the NHVR to fund engineering assessments for local government owned road network infrastructure, and to build an asset collection database.

The NHVR Strategic Local Government Asset Assessment Project (SLGAAP) team has now been established and is progressing with the initial phases of work. 


Commonwealth Council agree the following recommendations be included into the National Transport Commission's (NTC) Review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL):
  1. Section 156 of the HVNL is reviewed, with prescribed time limits more appropriately structured.
  2. Review and harmonise the definition of ‘indivisible’, to deliver consistency across jurisdictions.
  3. Section 661 of the HVNL be reviewed and changed to provide a trigger clause for the NHVR to manage when there is no response from Road Managers for consent.
  4. Section 158 of the HVNL is reviewed to appropriately recognise third parties and make improvements to streamline the consenting process.
NTC to incorporate recommendations into Review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law. Completed
38 Commonwealth Council agree that all relevant policy and regulatory agencies commit to identifying and highlighting best practice, to deliver 48-hour (on average) OSOM turnaround time by 2021. Completed, agreement obtained.

The OSOM working Group is currently progressing the ten recommendations from tranche two. Updates are provided in the table below.

Rec No.RecommendationAs of 21 July 2020
3 Council agree to reduce permit volumes by 30 per cent by 2020, through pre-approvals, notices or gazettal. Completed. The NHVR and jurisdictions will continue to develop pre-approvals and notices to reduce permit volumes as opportunities arise, noting that volumes will be driven by outside factors such as economic conditions.
7 NHVR to work with states, territories and local government to introduce a project-specific permit, which allows for multiple movements and configurations for the same application. In progress. NHVR and jurisdictions encourage the managers of major projects or tasks that involve large volumes of heavy vehicle movements, such as wind farms, to advise of their freight movement requirements with a view to developing an appropriate instrument of access.

For example, South Australia provided approval for oversize (40m long x 6.6m high) accommodation buildings to be transported using a type 1 road train configuration to reduce the number of vehicle movements to 30 (60 buildings were transported).

South Australia is also currently working with BHP to understand transport requirements for the future expansion of BHP Olympic Dam site in the north of the state. The project specific permit will be utilised to provide efficiencies to BHP and transport contractors.

The NHVR has developed a draft Project Specific Permit for consideration that provides information and guidance to project proponents and heavy vehicle operators of their freight movement requirements with a view to developing an appropriate instrument of access.
16 Council agree the publication and systemic use of the Vehicle Limits Manual. This Manual to be published on jurisdictional websites by end of 2018. In progress. The Vehicle Limits Manual (VLM) is specific to Queensland, based on the 1985 NAASRA Review of Road Vehicle Limits Study, and is currently under review. The Queensland Government will consider publishing the VLM after that review process is complete.

The 1985 NAASRA Study is publicly available and utilised by jurisdictions to assist with determining infrastructure load limits.

The project, commenced on 2 August 2019 and will update the NAASRA manual and guide jurisdictions into the future when determining access to the road network.
20 Council to agree that NHVR works with Austroads to refine the proposed OSOM envelopes to establish infrastructure bridge loading limits in the standards. Completed.

The NHVR was allocated $8.0 million in the 2019–20 Budget to fund engineering assessments for local government owned road network infrastructure, and to build an asset information collection database, which will contribute toward this recommendation being implemented.

Austroads in March 2020, completed a relevant project, Investigation and Development of Bridge Formulae for Inclusion in the Performance-Based Standards Network Classification Guidelines.
21 Council agree an envelope approach is taken for low-risk OSOM vehicles, with NHVR and road managers to agree a common envelope within six months. Completed. Through the increasing use of Notices, the NHVR and jurisdictions are effectively progressing envelope approaches for OSOM vehicles, such as the network maps produced by jurisdictions.
25 Council agree harmonisation for dimensions and requirements across jurisdictions through the Multi-State Class 1 Load Carrying Vehicles Dimension Exemption Notice 2016, within 12 months. Completed. The NHVR, states and territories are working to reduce inconsistencies including improvements to rear overhang, widths and heights.
28 NHVR undertake a project of data cleansing and working on the data quality of the NHVR Portal. This Review recommends NHVR lead a project to work with Road Managers to encourage data sharing to increase overall transparency, this will lead to increased confidence in the data that may assist and allow further routes to be approved including targeting of network pinch points. Completed. The NHVR is constantly working to improve the quality of the NHVR portal, including better sharing of data with local road managers. Every time a new, amend or renewal application is submitted via the NHVR Portal, it is continuing to refine and cleanse the data in the system.

The NHVR also recently worked with the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) to refine and input all the SPV Authority To Operate (ATO) data into the system. 
29 NHVR to support transport operators to use state/territory road manager mapping tool to journey plan, with the NHVR Journey Planner used only to identify affected road managers. Completed. The NHVR supported customers through the transition from the stand alone Journey Planner tool to the incorporated NHVR Portal Route Planner tool. The NHVR continues to offer regular training and over the phone support to customers on how to effectively utilise this tool.
30 NHVR to:
  1. Progress internal project to incorporate all mapping data from state Road Manager's mapping tools into the Journey Planner.
  2. Work with relevant state/territory road managers to automate collection and storage of current infrastructure capability.
In progress.
35 NHVR to initiate an education program to work with road managers to ensure the Guidelines are used consistently. In progress. The NHVR and jurisdictions are providing a range of education material and tools to assist road managers. Austroads has commenced a project—”Decision Making Framework and Tools for Road Freight Access Decisions”. This will support road managers in making access decisions.

Review of Oversize and Overmass (OSOM) Vehicle Arrangements—third tranche of recommendations identified for implementation

On 5 June 2020, the Transport and Industry Council (the Council) agreed to an additional tranche of OSOM recommendations for implementation. The OSOM Working Group will now progress these recommendations.

If you would like to put forward any views on the implementation of these recommendations, or on other recommendations that should be prioritised, please send an email to osomreview@infrastructure.gov.au.

Rec NoRecommendationUpdate
4 Council agree transport agencies maintain current delegation approaches, prior to the short term recommendations being implemented. In progress. The NHVR has transitioned various permit delegations back from jurisdictions. For more information, please refer to the NHVR Delegation Project web page: www.nhvr.gov.au/road-access/access-management/return-of-delegations-project.
6 NHVR to improve staff training to boost skill and capabilities in addressing technical issues during the application process. In progress.
8 Council agree approvals that were pre-existing prior to 2014 be reinstated by NHVR and relevant Road Managers. In progress.
11 NHVR introduce new arrangements to deal with emergency situations, including escalation process. In progress
12 NHVR implement regional teams to work with Road Managers, this should include co-location with state Road Managers. In progress
14 Council to agree NHVR investigating alternative permit approaches, including higher fees for expedited/guaranteed turnaround times. In progress
15 Council agree to develop and implement an industry-centric triaging system for bridge assessments, within 12 months. In progress
17 Council agree to implement harmonised national standards for pilot and escort vehicle arrangements. In progress
18 Council agree to harmonise inconsistencies around accreditation for pilot drivers by 2020. In progress
19 Council agree to simplify pilot and escort process to remove layers to the consent process. NHVR, Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) and Queensland Police Service to undertake a process improvement project. In progress
23 Council to agree that low-risk OSOM vehicles be provided a 48 hour turnaround time (on average), within 12 months after the envelope approach is agreed. In progress.
24 Council agree to progress consideration of the following:

6a) Road Managers to assess cranes using a dynamic lo8ad allowance appropriate for hydro pneumatic sus11pension. (reduce from 0.4 to .01~).

b) Ro12ad Managers to assess cranes using a load certainty factor appropriate for non-load carrying mobile plant. (reduce from 1.6 to 1.5).

c) Create network access maps for all cranes where possible.

d) Add 6 and 7 axle and dolly combinations to maps, where they outperform current vehicle designs.

e) Add 8 9 axle crane carriers (no boom) to existing maps due to their low axle weights and superior swept path performance.

f) Investigate opportunities to introduce an SPV 12t per axle notice.
In progress.
26 Council agree NHVR, together with industry associations, introduce a Heavy Haulage Accreditation module, as part of considerations from the Medlock Review. In progress
29 NHVR to support transport operators to use state/territory Road Manager mapping tool to journey plan, with the NHVR Journey Planner used only to identify affected Road Managers. In progress
31 In conjunction with other telematics related initiatives, Council to commission a project to consider possible policy/regulatory changes to facilitate the sharing of telematics data between local governments, to better track OSOM movements on their network. In progress
33 Council agree the NTC, in conjunction with relevant partners, undertake work to progress consideration toward policy/regulatory settings to boost the uptake and use of telematics in OSOM heavy vehicles. In progress
34 a Council agree:

To ensure local government can provide timely advice on OSOM assessment by incorporating by using asset management systems.

Introduce a recognised and established asset management framework for local governments to apply throughout their business to ensure consistency and a system for recording important infrastructure data. This will assist in gaining an understanding of their network and assist access decisions. This could be done by NHVR and Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia partnering to deliver an education program to implement the International Infrastructure Management Manual. This provides a baseline on ‘what to do’ and ‘how to do’ in terms of applying standards for infrastructure asset management, this includes tools and frameworks that can be easily applied to local governments.
In progress
34 b Introduce and encourage the adoption of a tool that provides local government guidance in assessing access consents. This could be done by implementing the Australian Road Research Board Restricted Access Vehicle Route Assessment Tool (RAVRAT). This tool allows for local government to undertake a consistent route assessment process, focused specifically upon the road infrastructure assessment criterion, including OSOM movements. In progress
34 c NHVR and state Road Managers to provide guidance on access and resources to local government Road Managers, this could include creating a NHVR team who can be accessed to undertake independent bridge and route assessments consisting of certified structural engineers, in QLD will need to be a registered professional engineer of Queensland. In progress
34 d NHVR and state Road Managers to encourage strategic partnerships that develop freight networks and identify pinch points that can be targeted for funding. In progress.
34 e Introduce technology options like telematics to enable local government to be able to track movements on their network, this should include increased data sharing to demonstrate evidence of compliance. In progress
34 f Implement the following recommended priorities from the Inquiry into National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities specifically: Critical Action Area 3  planning for current and future needs:

i. Promote training and reskilling of employees in the freight industry appropriate to current and future needs, within the context of technological advancement, for example, increasing automation.

ii. Undertake a review to identify any potential gaps in existing infrastructure investment programs to allow funding for smaller, collective packages of investment in freight projects that could lift regional productivity, which may not otherwise be considered for commonwealth funding.
In progress
34 h NHVR to issue further business rules and guidance material to Road Managers that outlines conditions, access processes etc. In progress
34 i NHVR have an existing function in their access team referred to as ‘Hypercare’, this should be expanded to include technical assistance to Road Managers in addition to transport operators. In progress
36 The NHVR examine opportunities for staff co-location with state/territory/local government associations/local government road managers.4 In progress.

Review of Oversize Overmass Vehicle Access Arrangements

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, the Hon Michael McCormack MP, announced on 29 July 2018 the Australian Government would fund an independent review. Consultancy firm, WSP Australia, undertook the review and were assisted by a three-member industry expert reference group.

The Terms of Reference DOCX: 20 KB PDF: 341 KB ReadSpeaker set out the scope of the review.

On 9 November 2018, the Transport and Infrastructure Council agreed to the release of the independent Review of Oversize Overmass Vehicle Access Arrangements Report PDF: 4114 KB ReadSpeaker. There are 38 recommendations in the Report covering a wide range of OSOM issues. The extensive number of recommendations reflect the complexity of OSOM vehicle access, the considerable stakeholder engagement (with over 60 separate entities engaged during the preparation of the Report), and the need for a comprehensive suite of solutions to improve the system.

The Report has been published without appendices as they contain sensitive and commercial-in-confidence material.

History of Heavy Vehicle Regulatory Reform

In July 2009 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed that a single national heavy vehicle regulatory regime be established to cover all vehicles over 4.5 gross tonnes. COAG agreed that the national regime include a single national regulator to administer a single set of national heavy vehicle laws replacing the separate and at times conflicting regulatory requirements on the heavy vehicle industry between states and territories.

In August 2011 an Intergovernmental Agreement on Heavy Vehicle Regulatory Reform was signed by COAG (except Western Australia) setting out the principles and processes to implement the decision to deliver a national heavy vehicle regulatory system. The signing of this agreement recognises that the Commonwealth and the states and territories have a mutual interest in improving national regulation and the need to work together to achieve these outcomes.

In November 2011 the Heavy Vehicle National Law Act 2012 was approved by the Ministerial Council on Transport and Infrastructure and was passed by the Queensland Parliament in August 2012.


Last Updated: 22 December, 2020