Opposition casts doubt on national rego and license scheme

By: Jason Whittaker

There are doubts being raised over the much-vaunted heavy vehicle national registration and licensing proposal, with claims the initiative will

There are doubts being raised over the much-vaunted heavy vehicle national registration and licensing proposal, with claims the initiative will fail because the Government cannot get higher registration charges through the Senate.

A spokesman for Warren Truss, the Opposition spokesman on transport, questions how the newly-proposed scheme agreed to last week can be implemented at a national level with Labor unable to gain support for the Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill and the Road Transport Charges (Australian Capital Territory) Repeal Bill.

Both bills aim to enact higher registration charges in the ACT as well as the 1.37 cent per litre increase in the diesel excise agreed to by the ATC during its February 29 meeting.

Unless they are passed, the ACT will have different registration charges to other states and the Northern Territory, meaning there will be no uniform registration scheme like the one proposed during the May 2 ATC meeting.

The Liberals are currently blocking the bills in the Senate and are refusing to budge. However, the Liberal majority ends in July when the Senate is introduced, meaning the Government must negotiate with the Greens, Family First and Nick Xenophon.

But the Government should not expect the new Senate to pass the bills, according to the spokesman for Truss. He says Labor will still struggle to get the charges through because it will need to rely on the support of Family First’s Steve Fielding, who has indicated an unwillingness to support the bills because they will push up running costs, in turn leading to higher grocery prices.

"They (Labor) are not going to have any problems with the Greens, but they may have a problem with the Family First guy who is into lower charges," the spokesman says.

Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese’s office declined to comment on whether it will have a greater chance of getting the bills past the new Senate, with a spokesman saying the Government will address the issue when the new Senate takes effect.

The transport ministers are currently working out the details of how a national licensing and registration scheme will be implemented. The ministers are expected to draft a response in time for the August ATC meeting.

One of the main items currently being discussed, according to Albanese’s spokesman, is how the Government will disperse registration and licensing revenue to the states and territories.

If implemented, the national registration and licensing scheme will take effect from July 1, 2009.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has applauded the proposal, with ATA Chief Executive Stuart St Clair saying the move will go a long way toward cutting red tape.

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