NatRoad supports investment allowance for new trucks

By: Steve Skinner


Ageing of the Australian truck fleet one of the hot topics at this year’s NatRoad annual conference

NatRoad supports investment allowance for new trucks
Old trucks are a bone of contention

 

One of the main issues discussed at last week’s NatRoad annual conference in Adelaide was Australia’s ageing truck fleet.

The average truck is nearly 14 years old, which is about double the age of trucks in many other countries.

One of the keynote speakers was CEO of the Truck Industry Council, Tony McMullan, the former National Transport Adviser to then Transport Minister and Deputy PM John Anderson in the Howard Government.

McMullan says the TIC has been in discussions with the Abbott Government promoting a voluntary operator incentive scheme featuring a 15 per cent investment allowance for new diesel trucks, and a 25 per cent allowance for new alternatively fuelled or powered trucks.

No surprises in a lobby group wanting more money, but McMullan believes the scheme has to be revenue-neutral for the Government to accept it.

"When groups like NatRoad and the Truck Industry Council go to government with a new expenditure proposal such as a plan to modernise the fleet, government requires that new expenditure be offset against funding from existing budgets," McMullan told the conference.

"The chance of this proposal succeeding from existing government revenue is unlikely. We all know that the Government is doing all it can to bring the budget back into surplus.

"Accordingly one potential self-funding option is to vary the fuel credit rebate based on the exhaust emission standard of the truck.

"For example, trucks with no emission standard would receive less fuel tax rebate and eventually no rebate.

"The savings accrued would offset the new truck investment allowance making it possible for Government to provide an investment allowance to purchase a new truck."

McMullan says there are nearly 600,000 trucks in Australia – and about a third of them are pre 1995 with no exhaust emissions regulation. He says this is becoming a big issue in the cities, and state governments are considering taking tough action.

"State governments are being targeted by public activism regarding tunnel construction in urban areas citing health concerns from vented vehicle emissions, including obviously trucks," he said.

"Further, we know that state governments have in their bottom drawer plans for low emission zones in urban areas. Similar to low emission zones in London, Europe, Japan and the US these zones preclude certain more polluting trucks from entering urban space.

"Such thinking is clearly on the radar of governments here in Australia."

"The question should be asked how can this industry as a collective take control of the agenda so that actions taken by the Government are supportive of the operator and not punitive to it.

McMullan added that while the plan is built around new trucks, TIC discussion with the Feds has also "canvassed the possibility of an investment allowance applying to more modern second hand trucks"

The next day at the NatRoad Parliament the topic was officially voted one of several "strategic issues" for NatRoad to pursue.

The wording was: "Investigate the re-instatement of an investment allowance to encourage the purchase of new equipment and vehicles".

For more on the NatRoad debate about ageing trucks check out the September issue of ATN.

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