Indexation, rest area fight not over: ATA


ATA will continue its anti-indexation campaign and call for more action on rest areas despite struggling to gain support

The trucking lobby will continue its anti-indexation campaign and call for more action on rest areas despite struggling to gain support.

The commitment follows a senate inquiry into two trucking Bills that aim to increase and index the road user charge and increase registration for ACT-based vehicles.

The ATA was disappointed with the outcome of the inquiry, in which the majority of senators supported the Road Charges Legislation Repeal and Amendment Bill being passed unamended.

"The ATA is calling for amendments that would stop the automatic indexation of the road user charge and establish an open and fair system for increasing the charge in the future," ATA Chairman Trevor Martyn says.

"We will also continue arguing the Government should spend more on truck rest areas, with an increase in funding for the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program from $70 million to $100 million over four years.

The ATA refuses to support indexation, raising concerns future charges will be passed according to a formula and without consultation.

It wants the Government to consult with the industry and to release to the public the figures used to justify any increases.

"The Senate should not pass this Bill unless it is amended," Martyn says.

The Coalition sided with the ATA, but has once again decided against supporting its push for 900 new rest areas by 2019.

The ATA wants any increases to the road user charge linked to the construction of at least 90 rest areas a year.

But the Coalition claims the figure is unrealistic and instead called on the Government to build 500 over 10 years or 50 each year.

However, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese has refused to be bound by a set figure.

To fund new rest areas, the ATA wants the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Package increased from $70 million to $100 million over four years.

The package, announced in February, is to be spent on tachograph trials, rest areas and road funding over a four-year period.

The ATA says the states and territories will need to match federal funding to build 350 rest areas over four years to reach the target of 900.

The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee last week completed its inquiry into the Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill and the Road Charges Legislation Repeal and Amendment Bill.

Although noting support for the first Bill, the stakeholders remain divided on changes to the road user charge.

"The Opposition members of the inquiry regard the failure of this Bill to preclude the prospect of automatic indexation as a significant weakness," the report says.

"In light of the weaknesses of this Bill, the Opposition members of the committee recommend that the Road Charges Legislation Repeal and Amendment Bill be rejected unless the Government accepts its amendments."

If passed, the Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill will harmonise truck registration charges nationwide.

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