Hey operators, it's time you paid more: NTC

NTC says trucking industry must pay an extra 4.2 percent on rego and the fuel rebate should be cut

By Brad Gardner | March 26, 2010

Governments are being urged to cut the diesel rebate and slap another fee on top of heavy vehicle registration charges already due to rise this year.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) claims trucking operators need to pay an extra 4.2 percent on top of registration fees due to a 10.7 percent increase in road expenditure.

It today released its proposed change to the charges process, which recommends raising the diesel excise from 21.7 cents to 22.6 cents a litre, meaning less for operators to claim back on their fuel bill.

According to the NTC, operators have benefited from improved B-double access, less congestion, greater trip times and reduced wear and tear on vehicles.

B-double registration fees were due to rise without the extra 4.2 percent because of a three-year plan to recoup money the NTC says was owed due to the level of government expenditure on the road network.

If B-double operators are forced to pay the extra 4.2 percent, registration will rise to $15,340 for each combination.

Semi-trailer registration will increase from $5310 to $5612.

The NTC says it will begin a four-week consultation with the industry until April 23 to get operator feedback. A final recommendation will be made to governments on April 30.

If accepted, the 4.2 percent rise will coincide with the planned registration charges on July 1.

The charges proposal could have been much higher if the NTC did not alter its flawed process.

Charges are based on averages, meaning the NTC did not take into account the changes in the mix of heavy vehicles.

"For example, the number of 9 axle B-doubles in the fleet increased by 20 percent from 2004-05 to 2005-06," the new Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chairman David Simon says.

The NTC has asked governments to make an adjustment to the formula used to determine the charges so the rise in B-doubles is reflected.

Under the NTC’s unaltered formula, operators would have been slugged with a 9.7 percent increase which the ATA claims would have overcharged the industry by $116 million.

But while it recommends 4.2 percent, the NTC has included the 9.7 percent option in the policy proposal for consideration by governments.

Industry group the Australian Livestock Transporters Association (ALTA) earlier this month raised concerns over the charges process and moved a motion at this week’s ATA annual general meeting to take action.

Operators are denied access to the NTC’s formula, prompting the ATA to call for all data to be made transparent so it can be verified.

"To assess the increase properly, we will need to see the road expenditure figures that the state and territory governments provide the NTC and the complete charge calculation model," Simon says.

The ATA will look at the NTC’s proposal before deciding whether to support or oppose it.

Simon says the group will also speak to Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese about the capacity of the industry to pay the increases and how registration could be made more affordable.

ALTA is pushing for a user pays model so operators only pay when they are using the equipment.

"As an industry, we are committed to paying our fair share of the cost of building and maintaining Australia’s roads. At the same time, we’re not going to pay any more than we should," Simon says.

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