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NHVR strikes right balance, says former top prosecutor

Truckies are lucky to have a regulator that has struck the right balance between education and enforcement, says the NHVR’s former top prosecutor.

Belinda Hughes left the plum role in January after three years to head the legal team at the Independent Commission Against Corruption in Papua New Guinea.

The NHVR has yet to find a full-time replacement.

Hughes looks back fondly at her time in transport and is confident she’s left the NHVR in good shape.

“A primary goal of the NHVR is to educate,” Hughes told Big Rigs. “That doesn’t take away its role however in enforcement. There are occasions and times where enforcement or prosecution is the only option.

“The NHVR I believe is a leader amongst the regulators, in that they have found a way to combine both. If you are fined, the roadside officers are generally also giving you some education about how to prevent that in the future. 

“If you are prosecuted, the prosecutors will generally ask for an order requiring you to receive education or training, in some cases instead of a fine.”

Hughes concedes that finding the right balance as a regulator between safety and productivity is a challenge, but she believes the NHVR has done it.

“While there are still many loud criticisers, I think most people understand and respect the work the NHVR is doing.

“The police have a job to do. It is different to the NHVR. The NHVR is a much smaller agency with more flexibility in its approach and narrow in scope in comparison. 

“For the police, this is a portion of their role. They see the impacts of poor road safety every day through being the first to respond to serious collisions and dealing with road trauma. 

“They are the ones informing people that they have lost their loved ones. They have a really hard job to do, and I think that is lost sometimes.”

Among the many highlights for Hughes at the NHVR, she counts the work done with Taskforce Paragon, a collaboration between the regulator and Victoria Police to investigate the tragedy on the Eastern Freeway in which four police officers were killed during a 2020 intercept, as a career standout.

“It was a lot of work for everyone involved and incredibly challenging at times. I’m also really happy to hear on the grapevine that there has been an overwhelming increase in companies wanting to understand their responsibilities under the HVNL since that case.”

Raymond Hassall, NHVR executive director statutory compliance, said Hughes, who championed chain of responsibility and “drove continuous safety outcomes” is a big loss to the regulator.

Hassall said Hughes has made a significant contribution to heavy vehicle compliance on Australia’s roads.

“The NHVR is currently in the process of recruiting for a new director – prosecutions, who will continue leading the team with the same level of excellence and expertise in driving safety outcomes across the supply chain,” Hassall said. 

“While the recruitment process takes place, we are pleased to have Ms Elim Chan as the acting director of prosecutions for the NHVR. Elim has been with our organisation since 2021 and is an instrumental member of the team.”


The post NHVR strikes right balance, says former top prosecutor appeared first on Big Rigs.

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