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Greens want $23k B-double rego fees

Greens want trucking industry to pay $23,000 registration fees as part of plan to shift freight from road to rail

By Brad Gardner | July 22, 2010

The Greens are pushing for significant increases to truck registration fees, saying B-double operators should be paying $23,000 a year.

NSW Greens senate candidate Lee Rhiannon wants truckers slugged with heftier fees in a bid to get more freight transported by rail.

Despite the final phase of a government plan to end cross-subsidisation taking effect this year, Rhiannon says B-double registration fees are still not high enough.

Those operating nine-axle B-doubles must pay $15,340 due to the July 1 increases, while eight-axle operators need to pay $14,770.

“Even considering the very latest B-double registration charges, it’s clear that current fees are lower than they should be and that the trucking industry is by no means paying its way,” Rhiannon says.

She claims registration fees have not kept pace with CPI increases.

“In 1989 the NSW annual permit and registration fees for an 8-axle B-double were $12,650 a year. With CPI increases, that fee should now sit on more than $23,000 but the actually fee charged is lower at $14,770,” Rhiannon claims.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) says the Greens’ plans to increase registration fees will drive up prices on supermarket shelves and that shifting freight to rail is not the answer.

“Supermarkets don’t have railway sidings out the back…Every item on the shelves of every supermarket in Australia is delivered by truck,” ATA CEO Stuart St Clair says.

He says the process to end cross-subsidisation means trucking operators are paying enough.

St Clair says fees for an eight-axle B-double increased by 22 percent, while the cost of a nine-axle climbed by almost 26 percent.

“Once again it’s clear the Greens do not know what they are talking about when it comes to transport policy,” he says.

But Rhiannon has criticised the cross-subsidisation process due to comments from the Productivity Commission that it is “conservative” based on international standards.

“These low B-double registration charges are effectively a hidden subsidy for the operations of heavily laden trucks that haul longer distances each year,” she claims, adding that they are responsible for an increase in the number of trucks on the road.

Rhiannon also wants an extra $1.5 billion imposed on the trucking industry for air pollution, noise, greenhouse gas emissions and the costs generated by crashes.

“Road pricing reform, to help shift freight from road to rail, is long overdue. Research shows that if just 15 percent of road freight task was transferred to rail we could stop 45 road deaths a year,” she says.

“Rail freight transport is more efficient, sustainable and cost effective in the long term, but it struggles to compete against a road transport lobby that has the ear of federal politicians.”

According to Rhiannon, a 10 percent shift from road to rail will save 250 million litres of diesel a year.

She also accused the ATA of “running a scare campaign” by saying the price of goods will rise in supermarkets if trucking operators are forced to pay higher registration fees.

“Rail already plays a valuable role in stocking the supermarket shelves of Perth, Darwin, Cairns and other cities,” Rhiannon says.

Registration fees and the fuel excise also increased by 4.2 percent from July 1 due to a 10.7 percent increase in government expenditure on the road network.

The Greens are seeking to hold the balance of power after the August 21 federal election. The party currently has five senators in the 76-seat upper house.

The Greens are also opposed to the trucking industry receiving a diesel rebate and they want a carbon tax introduced on July 1 next year.

What do you think of the Greens plan? Leave your thoughts below

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