Forget it, trucking doesn't need more help: ARA

Rail lobby kicks up a stink after ATA requests government assistance to help small trucking operators adjust to carbon tax

December 12, 2011

The rail lobby has kicked up a stink over the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) request for government funds to help small operators adjust to a carbon tax.

Australian Railway Association CEO Bryan Nye has issued a stinging rebuke to the trucking outfit, accusing it of trying to grab hold of taxpayer money to help it fund the industry’s pollution.

The ATA last week wrote the Department of Climate Change asking it to alter its Energy Efficiency Information Grants scheme so industry groups could provide training to small operators on how to adjust their fuel levies and negotiate contracts under a carbon tax.

The ATA says the government programme, designed to provide small to medium businesses with information on the tax, is currently focused on energy efficiency initiatives.

However, Nye says the trucking industry is already receiving a handout through a two-year exemption from the tax. The rail sector will be bound by the scheme when it begins on July 1 next year.

"We are talking about a tax on pollution and the trucking industry has already received a huge exemption that is worth more than a billion dollars," Nye says.

To put some context around this, the current carbon tax will cost rail operators more than $100 million per year whilst the more polluting trucks pay nothing."

"We are paying a carbon tax that will help polluters."

Nye claims the exemption for trucking puts rail at a significant competitive disadvantage, adding that a level playing field is necessary if the mode is to compete with heavy vehicles for freight.

"As well as being good for our environment, more freight travelling by rail will also reduce the amount of traffic on our roads, reducing congestion and making our roads safer," he says.

The energy efficiency scheme is due to begin in early 2012 and run for four years.

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