Liberals under pressure to push through heavy vehicle charges

By: Jason Whittaker


The Federal Government is using the Austroads report into the state of rest areas to pressure the Opposition-dominated Senate into

The Federal Government is using the Austroads report into the state of rest areas to pressure the Opposition-dominated Senate into passing new heavy vehicle charges.

The Liberals have so far refused to rubber stamp the Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill and the Road Transport Charges (Australian Capital Territory) Repeal Bill , which will increase registration charges in the ACT as well as enact the 1.37 cents per litre increase in the diesel excise.

Doing so is jeopardising the $70 million truck safety package announced by Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese because the package will only be implemented if the bills are legislated.

Part of the $70 million is to be spent on rest areas over four years.

Due to the fact the Austroads report recommended urgent investment in rest areas, the Government is attempting to wedge the Opposition, with a spokesman for Albanese saying the Government wants to increase investment but it is being stymied by the Liberals.

"We think there needs to be more investment in rest areas," he told ATN

"But they [the Opposition] have blocked the legislation that would enable us to do that."

According to the Austroads report, none of the 1,111 rest areas audited met spacing requirements defined under national guidelines, while the majority lacked basic amenities such as toilets and drinking water.

Despite the Liberals attempting to gain industry support by blocking increased charges, its plan may backfire because industry groups are now calling for immediate investment into rest areas to bring them up to acceptable standards in light of the Austroads report.

However, Albanese is also coming under pressure to invest more money, with Victorian Transport Association Chief Executive Phil Lovel labelling the $70 million package "chickenfeed".

The spokesman for Albanese refuted the claims, saying the safety package is a start which will be built upon in future.

The Australian Transport Council (ATC) voted in favour of increased registration and diesel charges during its February 29 meeting.

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