Finemore may pay more but says fuel charging is best

Ron Finemore Transport may grapple with higher bills under fuel charging but says switching to the scheme is fairer

Finemore may pay more but says fuel charging is best
Finemore may pay more but says fuel charging is best
By Brad Gardner | April 29, 2013

Ron Finemore has thrown his weight behind a switch to fuel-based charging for heavy vehicles, despite the fact the move may increase his business’s running costs.

The well-known trucking identity, whose operation hauls dangerous goods, general freight and bulk goods, believes lowering registration fees in return for a higher fuel excise is in the best interests of the trucking industry.

He backed fuel charging in a written submission to the National Transport Commission (NTC), which last month raised the prospect of the scheme, along with other possible reforms to improve the heavy vehicle charging system.

"Although our company would be one of the companies (i.e. a high utilisation operator) people talk about that would be disadvantaged by this change I strongly believe that it would be fairer on everyone concerned in the industry as we, like everyone else, have spare trailers that are sitting in the yard paying registration charges when they are not being used," Finemore writes.

The NTC highlighted possible barriers to overcome before moving to fuel charging, including identifying how governments will recoup the money lost from reducing registration fees. It is something Finemore touches on in his written response.

"Of course the real challenge to this is to get governments to do the right thing as to get it to work, we need the Federal and State Governments to work together and agree on a formula to share the increased fuel charges that would be collected under such a scheme to compensate the States for their loss of truck registration fees," he says.

Owner-driver Peter Swift also lobbed a submission with the NTC, labelling the existing charging model "unfair" because it lumps single operators in with larger carriers.

"I do 50000 km/year but the larger companies do 500000km/year but we pay the same registration costs. Everybody in the industry is calling for a user pay system except the larger companies as they are on a win," he writes.

Swift also took aim at the NTC’s consultation sessions, which were recently held around the country to discuss the charging proposals with industry.

"I went to your meeting held in Perth and I left with the feeling that you would do what you wanted to do anyway and it was all lip service," he says.

The NTC says there is significant support within industry ranks for fuel charging. However, it has also suggested axle charging as another option.

It says a group charge as opposed to a standard axle charge is preferable because the latter assumes all axles cause the same level of road wear regardless of axle load.

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