Cut big ticket items, keep fuel credit: ATA


The trucking industry risks shouldering massive cost blowouts if Rudd Government commits to fast-tracking major road projects, ATA warns

Cut big ticket items, keep fuel credit: ATA
Cut big ticket items, keep fuel credit: ATA
By Brad Gardner

The trucking industry risks shouldering massive cost blowouts if the Rudd Government commits to fast-tracking major road projects, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) warns.

In releasing its Budget submission today, the peak trucking lobby recommended the Government focus more on maintenance projects as the economy dwindles in the face of the global financial downturn.

The ATA is also pushing for the fuel tax credits to remain, but expects the road user charge to increase in light of increased infrastructure investment.

ATA Chairman Trevor Martyn says it takes years to begin construction on major projects and any cost increases from poor planning will affect the 21 cent-per-litre road user charge.

"The industry’s road user charge is based on governments’ expenditure on road construction and maintenance, so every trucking operator pays for deficiencies ain project management," the submission says.

The Government has already announced it will bring forward $711 million on 14 major projects as well as spend another $60 million on the Black Spot program this financial year.

While welcoming the initiatives, the ATA says the ideal solution is to devote resources to maintenance because projects can begin immediately.

It wants targeted spending on major highways, saying more must be done because the previous $300 million allocation is "inadequate".

"The effects of the growing maintenance backlog are now being felt across the highway system," the submission says.

The ATA also wants the $20 billion Building Australia Fund to bankroll more rail projects to ensure funds are not diverted from road initiatives.

The submission calls for the Rudd Government to impose constraints on the Building Australia Fund, saying states should only receive money if they grant access to high productivity vehicles.

The submission details the productivity benefits for operators, but says vehicles should not be subjected to the Intelligent Access Program on Higher Mass Limits routes.

The submission outlines what the ATA considers are vital B-triple routes that need to be expanded, such as the Newell, Great Western, Dukes, Sturt and Hume highways.

The ATA has also reiterated its call for more action on rest areas, saying future road projects should be designed with rest areas in line with national guidelines.
The industry group also recommends the Government extend its 10 percent investment allowance for another year.

Under the initiative, businesses receive a discount for buying depreciating assets of more than $10,000.

The ATA claims trucking operators will need to buy new vehicles to increase fuel efficiency as well as comply with the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which will be introduced in 2010.

"However, it will be a major task for the industry to upgrade its equipment and incentives will be required in the current economic environment to help operators make the investments," the submission says.

The document was released following Treasurer Wayne Swan’s invitation for businesses, families and community groups to submit ideas on what should be in the next federal Budget.

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