Furious lobbying underway to get relief from A-trailer fees

ALTA is directly lobbying transport ministers to address crippling A-trailer fees, saying they are "bleeding" operators to death

Furious lobbying underway to get relief from A-trailer fees
Furious lobbying underway to get relief from A-trailer fees

By Brad Gardner | April 1, 2011

Furious lobbying efforts are underway to convince the nation’s transport ministers to alter A-trailer registration fees, including extending a Queensland specification nationwide.

The Australian Livestock Transporters Association (ALTA) is halfway through meeting every state and territory transport minister to convince them to amend crippling A-trailer registration fees, which are currently $6,372 annually.

Trucking operators are crying out for reform, with many complaining of the high costs of maintaining trailers that are only used sporadically throughout the year.

"A-trailers are bleeding bush operators to death now," ALTA Executive Director Philip Halton (pictured) says.

"Queensland has a special scheme that treats an A-trailer used in a modern ‘road train replacement’ vehicle as if it were an ordinary semi-trailer and operators pay a much lower fee as a result. We need that scheme to flow across the nation."

Halton has proposed a range of alternative measures – recently raised by the Australian Trucking Association – to alleviate the cost burden on industry.

He has suggested low mileage discounts for operators who use A-trailers sparingly or for special identified trailer classes for stock crates and grain tippers because both units spend a lot of time running empty.

"We’re confident that if government and industry get together in a constructive process, we can find some better solutions," Halton says.

The ALTA is also proposing some vehicle types be charged according to their average weight.

"At the moment, in this country, we charge a B-double the same national standard registration fee regardless of whether it’s set up as a pantech working linehaul on the Hume and Pacific Highway, or a tipper working short distances around a major silo," Halton says.

He is seeking an immediate fix to help operators, saying work currently underway to implement a new heavy vehicle charging scheme will take years to implement.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is currently investigating options to create a more equitable charging scheme for heavy vehicles, including using a mass-distance-location model.

The ATA raised concerns over the cost of A-trailers in its submission opposing a 2.4 percent increase to the road user charge and registration fees.

According to a survey it ran, the ATA says 97 percent of respondents could not increase freight rates to compensate them for higher registration charges.

"Unlike the road user charge which is simply recovered in the fuel levy component of the contract, the cost of registration charges is not easily recovered through business contracts," the ATA says.

In its submission, the ATA says many operators do not use their A-trailers for the full year. It says operators are discouraged from using seasonal registration due to the additional paperwork and higher charges involved.

"Initial action could be taken to address this issue while more long term arrangements can be established," the ATA says.

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