Rural truckers pay more for less


Despite receiving significantly smaller share of road investment, rural trucking operators will pay the same charges as urban counterparts

Rural truckers pay more for less
Rural operators paying more for less
By Brad Gardner | February 14, 2011

Rural trucking operators will be forced to pay the same road user charge as their urban counterparts despite receiving a significantly smaller share of road funding.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) last week recommended increasing the trucking industry’s road user charge by 2.4 percent to 23.1 cents per litre.

If accepted, the proposal will reduce the fuel tax credit by 0.5 cents to 15.04 cents per litre.

According to the NTC, trucking operators need to pay higher charges from July 1 due to greater government investment in the road network.

Figures released by the NTC show expenditure on rural local roads between the 2002 and 2009 financial years was $14.64 billion. Conversely, expenditure on urban local roads over the same period was $23.56 billion.

Spending on urban local roads between the 2007 and 2008 financial years increased from $3.57 billion to $3.92 billion, while spending on rural roads went from $2.13 billion to $2.28 billion.

While the NTC did not provide expenditure figures for rural and urban local roads for the 2010 financial year, it says spending on urban arterial routes was $5.95 billion. The figure represents an almost $500 million decline over the previous year.

"Spending on roads and bridges across all levels of government has increased significantly in recent years, reflecting initiatives from all levels of government to improve road transport infrastructure," the NTC says.

Between the 2004 and 2010 financial years, the NTC says governments spent $31.52 billion, compared to $27.73 billion on rural arterial routes over the same period.

According to the NTC, rural arterial expenditure increased from $4.83 billion in the 2009 financial year to $5 billion in the 2010 financial year.

"Revenue recovered through heavy vehicle charges contributes to building better and safer roads, such as providing high productivity vehicles with increased access to the road network," it says.

The trucking industry has been given until March 11 to respond to the NTC’s proposal before it goes to the Federal Government for approval.

Under changes introduced in 2008, the Government must give the industry 60 days notice prior to making a decision. It must release the data used to determine any changes.

If it accepts the NTC’s proposal, the Government will need to gain the support of independents in the House of Representatives to pass the 2.4 percent increase. The Senate can also pass a disallowance motion to stop the price rise.

The NTC says the latest proposal is almost 2 percent lower than last year’s increase (4.2 percent) and .4 percent lower than CPI.

A sub-group of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is currently working on an alternative charging model for the trucking industry, including mass-distance-location pricing.

Under this method trucking operators will pay an individual rather than general fee. Vehicles will be billed based on their mass, how far they travel and the locations they travel through.


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