Truckers say no to Greens rego proposal


Trucking operators have opposed a Greens proposal to significantly increase heavy vehicle costs, with one company labelling it "laughable"

Truckers say no to Greens rego proposal
Truckers say no to Greens rego proposal
By Brad Gardner | July 23, 2010

Trucking operators have opposed a push by the Greens to significantly increase heavy vehicle registration fees, saying businesses cannot afford it.

Greens NSW senate candidate Lee Rhiannon this week argued trucking operators were not paying enough in registration fees and claimed the cost of an eight-axle B-double should be more than $23,000 a year.

The figure is currently $14,770, while a nine-axle configuration costs $15,340. Rhiannon wants the industry to pay more as part of the Greens’ policy to shift freight from road to rail.

Robert Brightwell from the NSW-based Brightwell Transport says operators are already struggling to get by on small margins.

"Every transport company I know is doing it tough," he says.

A northern NSW company that declined to be named suggested the Greens gain a greater understanding of the cost pressures facing trucking operators.

"I’d like to put them in the industry for five days," the Walcha-based company says.

Owner of Burke’s Transport Graeme Burke refuted the Greens’ claim that a rise in registration fees will not cause supermarket prices to rise. He says trucking companies will need to pass on the costs in the form of higher freight rates.

"The Greens are just out of touch," Burke says.

He has also dismissed Rhiannon’s call for an extra $1.5 billion to be imposed on the industry for air pollution, noise, greenhouse gas emissions and the costs generated by crashes.

"It’s just laughable," he says.

Burke supports bulk goods being moved by rail, but says there is more freight being carried by trucks because the poor state of rail infrastructure affects its reliability.

Furthermore, Burke says rail is not equipped to deal with the changing nature of the freight task because customers are demanding overnight orders to have stock ready to sell by the morning.

"Overnight express is becoming the norm. It just can’t be done by rail," he says.

The Greens have not yet stated what they think the cost of registering other configurations should be. A spokeswoman for Rhiannon says the party will look at international models to determine figures.

"We haven’t got a set figure but we think they should be higher than they are," the spokeswoman says.

Despite registration fees and the fuel excise increasing on July 1 this year, Rhiannon says the trucking industry is not paying its way. She says road pricing reform and a shift from road to rail is long overdue.

"Rail freight transport is more efficient, sustainable and cost effective in the long term, but it struggles to compete against a road transport lobby that has the ear of federal politicians," Rhiannon says.

The Greens’ proposal has been rubbished by the Australian Trucking Association, which accuses the party of not knowing what it is talking about.

ATA Government Relations Manager Bill McKinley says the Greens need to realise its policies will have consequences if implemented.

"These are businesses running on very tight margins," McKinley says of trucking operators.

"There has to be a flow-on effect because trucking operators aren’t in a position to absorb these costs."

McKinley says the Greens’ policy to get more freight on rail will not work because trucks are needed to carry goods over short distances whereas rail works well over long distances.

"I think that the trucking industry and public need to be concerned about the policies being put forward that simply aren’t going to achieve their objective," he says.


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