NTC pushed direct charging to fix high A-trailer fees

The NTC told governments they needed to switch to a direct charging scheme to address high A-trailer registration fees

By Brad Gardner | November 10, 2011

The National Transport Commission pushed for governments to introduce a direct charging scheme for the trucking industry as a long-term solution to high A-trailer registration fees.

The NTC says its review of A-trailers found that the existing pricing scheme of fuel excise and registration fees needed to change to bring down the price of the trailers, which has hit more than $6,500.

Transport ministers last week rejected the NTC’s review, which also advocated charging other combinations more in return for lowering A-trailer fees.
One source involved in the meeting told ATN they believed tandem-axle vehicles were in the firing line.

"The report found that ultimately only a move towards a direct pricing model would provide a long term solution to the issues raised by industry, and the broader problem of cross-subsidisation within a vehicle class," the NTC says.

Work is currently underway to develop a new charging scheme, with the Council of Australian Governments Road Reform Plan (CRRP) recommending a mass-distance-location scheme. The Australian Trucking Association wants governments to introduce a fuel-based model, arguing it is simpler and cheaper than the CRRP proposal.

Meeting last week as the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI), transport ministers voted to send CRRP’s proposal to COAG to be voted on.

The NTC says its report also found that the current economic climate was having a significant effect on trucking operators and that the high cost of A-trailers was exacerbating the situation.

"The report found that the main factor impacting industry is around vehicle substitution and that data limitations at the time of setting A-trailer charges have contributed to this impact," it says.

"However, in the interim, the NTC is finalising ongoing road wear research and looking into other changes to the charging model which may help alleviate some of the unintended consequences of the COAG pricing principles, including vehicle substitution."

Ministers told the NTC to come back in February next year with new proposals to address A-trailer fees.

The SCOTI meeting also voted in favour of the Bill to create national heavy vehicle regulations. It will be introduced into Queensland’s parliament later this year, with an amendment package due to follow before national regulations begin on January 1, 2013.

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