New Australian Road Vehicle Standards Legislation Published
In Australia, the legislative requirements regarding the importation and first provision of road vehicles and their components are laid down by the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 and the Motor Vehicle Standards Regulations 1989. However, as over 20 years had passed since their original implementation, in 2013, the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport undertook a consultation exercise to assess whether these legislative acts were still effective and fit for purpose. As a result of the inadequacies identified during this first consultation, the Australian government began an exercise to draft two new legislative acts to replace the existing Motor Vehicle Standards Act and Regulations. This exercise has taken almost 5 years to complete, with a number of additional consultation exercises having taken place during this period.
The final results of this work were finally seen on 10th December 2018 when the Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018 was published. This was following up on 13th February 2019 by the publication of the Road Vehicle Standards Rules 2019. This new Act and its supporting Rules will repeal and replace the Motor Vehicle Standards Act and its supporting Regulations with effect from 10th December 2019.
In the drafting of the new Road Vehicle Standards Act and Road Vehicle Standards Rules, the Australian Government have sought to modernise and strengthen the legislative framework for road vehicles by:
- Continuing the Australian Government’s policy of harmonising Australia’s standards with international Regulations.
- Ensuring that the legislative framework is flexible enough to cater for future advances in automotive technology, such as automated vehicles.
- Modifying the method by which vehicles are declared to be compliant with the applicable Australian standards via the introduction of a new Register of Approved Vehicles (RAV). This new RAV will take the form of a publicly searchable electronic database.
- Clarifying the obligations on approval holders with regard to both obtaining and maintaining type approvals.
- Ensuring consistency in the application of the legal requirements.
- Simplifying and rationalising the legal requirements and the "pathways" to achieve approval, wherever practicable.
- Clarifying the methods to be used for monitoring and enforcing compliance with applicable requirements.
- Introducing new provisions on both compulsory and voluntary recalls that are broader in scope than those currently specified within Australian Consumer Law and which specifically relate to road vehicles and their components.
- Ensuring that legislative framework will not restrict the choice of road vehicles available to Australian citizens by continuing to provide alternative "pathways” to achieve compliance, such as the Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles (SEV) Register.
From 10th December 2019, all new type approvals will be required to meet the requirements specified in the Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018 and in the associated Road Vehicle Standards Rules 2019. However, existing type approvals issued to the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 and the Motor Vehicle Standards Regulations 1989 will remain valid until 9th December 2020.