Rego, fuel hikes could hit farming sector: NFF

By: Jason Whittaker

The introduction of the proposed registration hikes for higher-productivity vehicles, such as B-doubles, could have an adverse impact on the

The introduction of the proposed registration hikes for higher-productivity vehicles, such as B-doubles, could have an adverse impact on the farming sector.

Charles McElhone, the Manager for Economics at the National Farmers Federation (NFF), says the majority of fleets used by the farming sector are made up of B-doubles and larger vehicles.

Under a proposal from the National Transport Commission (NTC), the registration cost of a B-double will rise from $8,041 to $14,340 over a three-year period. A report last month by ATN revealed B-triples could hit more than $20,000 per year.

McElhone says the nature of the farming sector means it may suffer if the proposed hikes are passed.

"We are generally a high turnover, low-margin business," he says.

"All costs, no matter how small they may appear in terms of per unit of production, do weigh heavily in terms of our profit margins."

However, McElhone says the cost of the proposed hikes on the farming sector could be offset if governments were willing to spend the extra revenue gained from registration fees on the road network.

"If we are paying more into road funding, then we want to see more access of higher productivity vehicles and better regulation in terms of the roads that are actually available," he says.

Support for the registration costs could hinge on whether governments spend the revenue or fill state coffers with it. McElhone says the NFF is willing to support the proposed hikes as long the farming sector receives benefits in return.

"Provided we can see a link with productivity gains which can help us to offset the additional costs then we would not have a problem [with the hikes]," he says.

But finding a link between an increase in productivity and the registration hikes has been tenuous at best, according to McElhone.

"Our major issue with the NTC¹s pricing determination is that we haven¹t seen in the past any link with increased costs and improved productivity gains," he says.

The NFF also wants respective state governments to address regulation regarding beef production across state borders. McElhone says the farming sector is burdened by the regulatory differences between various states, such as Queensland and NSW.

"A processor in Northern NSW is having to pay an additional 6.3 cents per kilo of beef produced due to lower road mass limits in NSW compared to their Queensland counterparts," he says.

"That has significant impact particularly for livestock producers and farmers based in Northern NSW."

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