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Forget it Greens, we don’t need another inquiry

ALC bemoans the likelihood of another inquiry into road user charging, saying there is no justification for it

July 5, 2011

The Australian Logistics Council is bemoaning the likelihood of another government inquiry into road user charging, questioning its worth in light of work already underway on the issue.

The Greens last week announced it had secured a commitment from the Federal Government to task the Productivity Commission with investigating road charges.

Senator Christine Milne says the inquiry will focus on shifting to a scheme of taxing fuel based on carbon and energy content. Milne wants the fuel excise eventually replaced with a road user charge.

But Australian Logistics Council CEO Michael Kilgariff says detailed work on road user charging has already been done, prompting him to ask: “what could the Commission possibly look at that hasn’t already being examined?”

“The Henry Tax Review took a detailed and in-depth look at road user charging, and recommended the development of mass-distance-location pricing for heavy vehicles in an effort to increase the efficient use and investment in roads,” Kilgariff says.

He expects the findings to be discussed during the National Tax Forum later this year and adds that a sub-group of COAG is currently investigating new heavy vehicle road charging methods.

“With these major pieces of work in the pipeline, I simply can’t see the value in asking the Productivity Commission to conduct a review into the issue if all it does is revisit ground that has been well covered by the Henry Review and under the COAG Road Reform Plan,” Kilgariff says.

The ALC is also pushing for a seat at the National Tax Forum table over concerns with how transport and logistics operators will be dealt with under a carbon tax.

While saying there is a need to address climate change, Kilgariff says government must ensure the industry is not bound by multiple taxes on transport externalities, which might include congestion, pollution, accidents and emissions.

“We simply cannot have the scenario where the cost of the same externality, in this case carbon, is priced into a number of different taxation mechanisms, giving rise to double taxation.,” he says.

“ALC firmly believes externalities flowing from the movement of freight should only be priced once, otherwise, all the efficiencies earned as a result of modernising the Australian transport and logistics regulatory structure to meet the trading realities of the 21st century will be lost.”

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