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ATA broadside on road tax take inaction

Transport and Infrastructure Council gets easier ride from ALC over national strategy


The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has reacted with frustration to the Transport and Infrastructure Council’s (TIC’s) inaction on the industry’s charges burden.

The crushing fuel and registration charges on small business truckies will continue, with transport ministers deciding today to overtax the industry by $189.5 million next financial year, the ATA says.

The ministers announced the decision after meeting today in Hobart, two weeks after the ATA pleaded for reform.

ATA chair Geoff Crouch says the decision continued the outrageous overcharging of truck and bus operators, with the governments’ own expert adviser, the National Transport Commission (NTC), telling them that charges were too high.

“Australia’s trucking industry delivers every item on the shelves of every supermarket,” Crouch says.

“We’re an industry of small businesses that are tied up in red tape, overtaxed and then endlessly criticised.

“Governments had two options for dealing with heavy vehicle charges. They could have continued a two year freeze on charging revenue, which would have helped our industry by reducing charge rates.

“But they didn’t pick that option. They went for the money, and instead decided to leave charge rates where they are now, resulting in a $189.5 million windfall gain for general government revenue.

“It’s very difficult for trucking businesses to pass costs like these on, because we often deal with very large customers. And governments aren’t helping, with toll road and port charges also going up to unsustainable levels.

“To say that industry is disappointed is an understatement. We are very happy to pay our fair share – but no more.

“Ironically, ministers decided at today’s meeting to go ahead with plans for a new road charging system.

“When the draft comes out next year, the first question that governments must be asked is this: why do you think you can run a complex new charging system when you’re not willing to fix the known problems with the existing one?”

The Australian Logistics Council has a more positive take, however, expressing the view that many of the outcomes from today’s TIC meeting “will help to drive greater efficiency and safety in our supply chains”.

“Today’s discussions covered a number of policy areas that are crucial to enhancing supply chain efficiency and safety, and ensuring the delivery of an effective National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy,” ALC chairman Ian Murray, who was at today’s meeting, says.

“The discussion around heavy vehicle road reform was most encouraging. ALC welcomed the opportunity to advise the meeting that our ongoing conversations with leading industry participants confirm a high degree of support for a fairer road pricing and investment model, where road users pay according to where and when they travel.

“ALC therefore welcomes today’s decision to commence work on a Council of Australian Governments Regulation Impact Statement [COAG RIS], to assess implementation options for independent price regulation of heavy vehicle charges.

“We similarly support the decision to freeze heavy vehicle access charges at 2017/18 levels for two years, and acknowledge the council’s agreement on the latest legislative package to deliver improvements to the Heavy Vehicle National Law [HVNL].

“The meeting’s focus on opportunities to improve freight movement, including national consistency and opportunities for greater investment was heartening.

“In particular, it was pleasing to see the Council specifically acknowledge that measures such as the National Rail Vision and the establishment of single national regulators are essential to improving the performance of our freight networks,”

The TIC communique can be found here.


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