Coalition opposes Government and ATA proposals

The Coalition won't support proposal to index fuel excise or amendment to build 90 rest areas a year

Coalition opposes Government and ATA proposals
Coalition opposes Government and ATA proposals
By Brad Gardner

The Opposition plans to block the Government from indexing the fuel excise, but it has ruled out supporting a trucking industry proposal for rest areas.

Opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss says he cannot support the indexation proposal because it is not open to scrutiny.

If the measure is passed, Truss claims the Government will increase the fuel excise by about 7 percent a year at will.

As such, the Coalition will propose a one-sentence amendment to the Road Charges Legislation Repeal and Amendment Bill 2008 which says: "In determining the road user charge, the Transport Minister must not apply a method for indexing the charge."

There is no backing, however, for the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) amendment to force the Federal Government to build at least 90 rest areas a year in return for increasing road user charges.

The ATA wanted its amendments slotted into the Bill. But the Coalition wants 40 fewer facilities built, arguing 50 rest areas a year is acceptable based on the money collected from the heavy vehicle industry.

Although the ATA wanted 900 new rest areas by 2019, a spokesman for the peak lobby group says the ATA supports Truss' position which, if passed, will result in 500 new rest areas by 2019.
"Five hundred extra rest areas would make an enormous difference to road safety. In addition, it would profoundly improve the working conditions of every truck driver on the road," ATA Chairman Trevor Martyn says.

Truss has also accused state and territory governments of reneging on their commitment to national transport regulations, claiming their promises so far have been empty.

"One example of this inefficiency is the different treatment of the width of loads, as the states cannot agree on a harmonised approach," Truss says.

"In Victoria, rigid trucks, semi-trailers and B-doubles may be loaded to a width of three metres, but in NSW the limit is 2.83 metres. Heaven help the farmer in Victoria who loads his truck with hay as wide as legally possible and the drives over the border."

Truss also says jurisdictions "must do better" on fatigue management laws in light of the number of cross-border differences in the regulations.

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