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Fearing $27.9m fuel tax grab, truckers back Truss

ALRTA backs Opposition call for changes to truck charges, claiming current proposal to increase excise will overcharge industry $27.9 million

By Brad Gardner | June 26, 2012

The Opposition’s push to reduce the pain of higher registration and fuel charges has won support from the trucking lobby, which fears the Federal Government’s plan to raise the fuel excise will overcharge industry $27.9 million.

Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) President John Beer says the group is pleased the Opposition has called for the government to limit increases to the excise and the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) to 5.7 percent.

The Federal Government plans to increase the excise 10.4 percent when the new financial year begins, while registration fees will rise even higher in some cases.

Citing figures from the pricing model the National Transport Commission (NTC) used to argue for the 10.4 percent increase, the ALRTA says road train operators and those reliant on transport will suffer.

“The figures contained in the pricing model disclose that, if this increase in the diesel tax goes ahead, the Commonwealth will single-handedly overcharge rural road trains by $27.9 million per annum,” Beer says.

“It will impose unnecessarily high transport costs on farmers, graziers, miners and especially on regional communities who depend on us for their daily living. Bush transporters in every state are outraged.”

The fuel excise is due to rise to 25.5 cents per litre on July 1. Under Truss’s proposal, it will peak at 24.4 cents per litre. He has threatened to pass a disallowance motion against the charges unless the government agrees to his plan.

Truss yesterday claimed $144 million was added to the latest round of heavy vehicle charges. A spokesperson for Albanese rubbished the claim, stating: “The fact is Mr Truss is simply wrong.”

Truss’s office told ATN the figure came from the ALRTA.

The surcharge Truss is referring to comes from the NTC’s report on heavy vehicle charges handed to transport ministers in February. It claims governments are not recovering enough money from the industry.

“NTC has found that were the annual adjustment simply applied to current charges (status quo) this would result in an under-recovery of historic expenditure of $144 million,” the report says.

The ALRTA has previously claimed the new charges will take too much from road train operators. It believes transport ministers will violate the pricing principles governing the charging process should the increases go ahead.

The principles require the NTC to minimise under- and over-recovery and to consider the impact on regional and remote communities when recommending the charges.

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