Fuel tax and rego decisions raise industry ire

Government retains current road user charge and industry bodies expect no net increase in fuel excise for trucks; but registration to increase

Fuel tax and rego decisions raise industry ire
Stuart St Clair: unacceptable grab for cash


There will be no change to the road user charge when the Federal Budget is handed down tomorrow.

The trucking industry had been hoping for a reduction in the charge.

However at least there will be no increase in fuel taxation for trucks, the industry expects.

"For the fuel based Road User Charge, the Australian Government will maintain the current rate of 26.14 cents per litre for 2014-15," a communiqué issued on Friday by state and federal transport ministers says.

The trucking industry had been hoping for a reduction in the road user charge of 1 cent a litre, in line with a recommendation last year from the National Transport Commission (NTC).

However peak trucking bodies are at least confident that despite the expected increase in fuel excise in the Budget, the net price of fuel for trucks will not increase.

The rate has been frozen at 38 cents per litre since the Howard Government abolished indexation in 2011.

"Under the Fuel Tax Act, trucking operators can claim for the full amount of tax they paid on their fuel when they acquired it minus the road user charge," Australian Trucking Association Government Relations Manager Bill McKinley says.

"In other words, an increase in the fuel tax rate would result in a matching increase in the fuel tax credits operators can claim, unless the Government changed the Act or increased the road user charge."

Meanwhile, the Transport and Infrastructure Council communiqué also says that by July 1 this year or soon after, the states and feds will be upwardly "adjusting" registration charges.

"This adjustment is expected to see an increase by each jurisdiction in charges of 1.3%, with details of implementation timing to be determined by each jurisdiction," it says.

ATA Chief Executive Stuart St Clair says the decision to increase rego is "an unacceptable grab for cash".

"They went for the money, despite their own advice that the industry is overcharged," he says.

That advice was from the NTC.

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) is also scathing about the increase in registration charges.

"You will note that Transport Ministers have deferred the implementation of the NTC’s Determination recommendations until 1 July 2016, because, as stated in the Communique, ‘Were the Determination to be implemented immediately, governments would likely have to cut road investment programs as a result of the reductions in heavy vehicle revenues’," the VTA has told its members.

"In the case of Victoria, this doesn’t ring true given that the Victorian Treasurer … announced a State Budget Surplus of $1.3 billion, while also announcing fully funded road & rail infrastructure projects in the Budget Forward Estimates of $24 billion!!"

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