Govt silent on rest areas and indexation

Government won't commit to changing its position on fuel indexation or whether to support a new proposal on rest areas

By Brad Gardner

The Federal Government will not commit to changing its position on fuel indexation or whether to support a new proposal on rest areas.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese will wait for the findings of a senate inquiry into the Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill and the Road Charges Legislation Repeal and Amendment Bill 2008 before deciding on the Government’s direction.

The first Bill, if passed, will grant the Government the power to index the fuel charge by regulation, while the second Bill relates to registration charges in the ACT. The trucking industry is opposing the first Bill amid claims the Government may decide against indexation if the industry accepts a one-off increase of 1.3 cents.

However, a spokesman for Albanese says there has been no discussion on the issue and a decision has not been made.

"We will wait for the report from the Senate inquiry before making any decisions," the spokesman says.

He also declined to comment on whether Albanese is considering adopting the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) proposal to build 350 rest areas over four years.

The ATA wants the Government to expand its heavy vehicle safety and productivity plan from $70 million to $100 million and for the states and territories to match federal funding.

The trucking lobby previously tried to have amendments included in the Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill, which were adopted by the Coalition.

Opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss wanted at least 500 rest areas built by 2019 and for the Government to remove indexation from any future increase in the fuel charge.

However, the Bill was defeated in the House of Representatives and was sent to the Senate unchanged. But the Coalition has warned the Government against ignoring its amendments.

"If the amendments are not made then we will oppose the Bills," A spokesman for Truss says.

The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee will report on the inquiry’s findings on November 21.

The ATA, Australian Road Train Association and the Australian Livestock Transporters Association (ALTA) have all made submissions to the inquiry.

The ATA and the ALTA have argued the industry will support the 1.3 cents increase—designed to make up for the increase in infrastructure expenditure—in return for the Government not indexing the fuel charge.

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