Trucking fears congestion charging in national framework

By: Jason Whittaker


Australia’s new national transport policy will only be a success if it focuses on boosting the trucking industry’s productivity and

Australia’s new national transport policy will only be a success if it focuses on boosting the trucking industry’s productivity and not on slugging the industry with even higher charges, the trucking lobby says.

With the trucking industry only just starting to work through the increased charges that will be phased in from July 2008, Australian Trucking Association (ATA) chief Stuart St Clair says he's concerned the National Transport Commission (NTC) is already talking about slugging the industry even more.

"In its national transport policy framework, the NTC has pressed its view that governments should develop an incremental pricing scheme for heavy vehicles, which would then lead on to direct pricing for both cars and trucks," St Clair says.

"We fear the trucking industry would end up being charged for urban congestion, even though cars make up 80 percent of the traffic in Australia’s cities.

"The Chief Executive of the NTC talked about the policy framework at the Australian Roads Summit last week. He devoted three pages of his speech to the virtues of slugging the trucking industry — but barely mentioned the need for the states and territories to roll out the productivity reforms they have promised."

St Clair has urged those ministers chairing working groups during the planning of Australia’s new transport policy to look beyond the NTC’s focus on heavy vehicle charges and concentrate on initiatives that will really make a difference to Australia’s transport system.

"In particular, the ministers will have to focus on delivering the transport regulation reforms that they have already agreed to carry out," he says.

"Ministers must not get carried away by all the talk about new beginnings or new thinking for transport. The first step towards fixing the transport system is to carry out the existing reform program properly."

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