Fuel charging must be on the table: LRTA


Truckers will lobby WA to snub the NTC's heavy vehicle charging proposal unless it supports a fuel-based scheme

Fuel charging must be on the table: LRTA
Fuel charging must be on the table

By Brad Gardner | February 7, 2012

Truckers in Western Australia will lobby their government to reject a heavy vehicle charging proposal unless it advocates a fuel-based scheme.

The Livestock and Rural Transport Association (LRTA) wants direct charging thrown into the mix of options the National Transport Commission (NTC) has proposed to address high A-trailer fees.

In a paper released late last year the NTC supported using a new cost model to calculate registration fees that will increase charges on some heavy vehicles in return for slashing prices on A-trailers.

But the LRTA says a fuel-based system is the most equitable and simple charging option and would encourage operators to use their vehicles efficiently.

"Whilst it is clear the NTC options have attempted to address the concerns expressed by industry, we believe the time for acting on a fuel based charging mechanism is now," it says.

"From the perspective of the rural transport industry we will be urging the WA [Government] to retain the status quo and continue with its current registration regime unless an appropriate direct charging model is established as part of this process."

The LRTA has questioned why fuel charging was not included in the options considering the industry has continually raised the matter and it is on the agenda of the Council of Australian Governments Road Reform Plan (CRRP).

The CRRP has been tasked with examining the feasibility of direct heavy vehicle charging, and the LRTA says there is no good reason to introduce an interim scheme prior to the outcome of the CRRP’s work.

It believes fuel charging should be part of the current deliberations on heavy vehicle fees or postponed until the CRRP completes its investigation.

The NTC listed three alternatives to its recommended approach, with one method including increasing the fuel excise in return for lower registration fees.

Governments would recoup 66 percent of revenue from the road user charge and 34 percent from registration. The current revenue split is 60:40.

Under the NTC’s preferred approach, the cost of a tri-axle A-trailer will drop from $6525 to $3480. A tandem-axle unit will fall $3033 to $3162.

It means the price of a B-double will go from $15,708 to $13,404, with B-triples dropping $5350 to $16,883.

The trucking industry has waged a lengthy campaign for changes to registration fees, claiming the high cost of A-trailers is sending some operators broke and forcing others to switch to cheaper and less productive combinations.

Registration fees for B-doubles and B-triples have risen dramatically in recent years due to a 2007 government decision to remove cross subsidies on heavy vehicles.

"It is important to note that the Western Australian Government did not adopt the new charges for A trailers and therefore the comparisons in the NTC discussion paper are not directly comparable with the status quo in WA," the LRTA writes.

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