COST INDEX: Truck budgets fall in June qtr, ahead of hikes

Fleet owners enjoy more falls in operating costs in June quarter, ahead of rego and tax hikes in July

Fleet owners enjoyed further reductions in operating costs in the last quarter of the financial year, helping them to prepare for big registration and tax hikes in July.

The ATN-PKF Truck Operating Cost Index for the three months to June will record modest declines in budget outlays for many transport operators.

Recession-hit fuel prices remained low, with a monthly national average wholesale price of 112.20 cents per litre less than 1 cent higher than the previous quarter.

But operators are facing more fuel pain, with diesel prices rising on the back of the Federal Government increasing the road user charge from July 1.

The decision by federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese cuts the fuel tax credit to 16.44 cents per litre.

Registration fees also jumped from July 1, with prices on some multi-combination trucks like B-doubles jumping almost $3,000 per year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports road freight transport costs declined 1.3 percent across the June quarter, leading an overall 0.5 percent fall across the transport and storage industries.

The freight transport and storage index rose 3 percent in the 12 months to June.

The ATN-PFK Truck Operating Cost Index — developed by Rick Copping of chartered accounting firm PKF and prepared by ATN — is available as a downloadable spreadsheet exclusively for ATN subscribers.

The index measures truck operating costs for a typical long and short haul operation, based on cost input figures from reliable sources including the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Institute of Petroleum and state workers' compensation authorities.

The spreadsheet allows operators to submit their own operating cost figures (in the 'Expense Amount' column) and attribute each category with a percentage of overall operating costs (in the 'Cost Weighting / Inc. Fuel' column) to find out the percentage rise in overall costs across the quarter.

The fuel figure in the index is the wholesale, or factory gate, price of a litre of diesel after excise and the diesel grant refund, averaged across capital cities and averaged across the three months of the previous quarter. This is done to compare these costs with quarterly ABS figures and fixed costs like vehicle registration, award wages and WorkCover premiums.

Users of the index should note this figure does not represent the highest cost of diesel throughout the quarter, nor the current cost of diesel post-quarter.

Customers and prime contractors who are using the index to pay rates should talk with their carriers to determine their individual costs and sustainable rates compensation based on the current operating environment.

Consignors should only use the cost index as a guide for TYPICAL truck operating costs as an AVERAGE over the previous quarter.

The model remains an independent and credible source on operating budgets and rate structures. But the spreadsheet should not be substituted for sound financial analysis and advice.

ATN staff are not financial experts and will not provide advice to operators, or support rate increase proposals.

For feedback or further information on the cost model contact Managing Editor Jason Whittaker on (07) 3166 2314.

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