ATA to keep focus on road charging plans


Watson reiterates call for independent price regulator

ATA to keep focus on road charging plans
Noelene Watson says the ATA will watch government moves on road charging closely

 

While welcoming aspects of the federal government’s Heavy Vehicle Expenditure Plans and Infrastructure Ratings announcement, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has used it to reiterate ongoing issues with road charging.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) has released updated documents, with federal urban infrastructure minister Paul Fletcher saying the second edition of the Heavy Vehicle Infrastructure Ratings "extends beyond the Key Freight Routes, with some states and territories providing rest-stop location data following feedback from the heavy vehicle industry in early 2016".  

"The ATA particularly welcomes the inclusion of some rest area location information in the data files," ATA chair Noelene Watson says.

We asked governments to include this information as it becomes available to make it easier to identify where more rest area funding is needed."

But the tone was a little more frosty when the minister states that the government will release a discussion paper on options for independent price regulation for heavy vehicle charges in the first half of the calendar year.

"Truck and bus operators are overcharged, and governments have failed to deal with it," Watson says.

"Based on NTC figures, governments will overcharge truck and bus operators by $250.2 million in 2016-17 and $264.8 million in 2017-18 – $515 million over the two years.

"That’s why we need an independent price regulator for heavy vehicle charges sooner rather than later.

"The ATA has previously recommended that the NTC should have initial responsibility for price regulation.

"Its decisions should be enforceable and subject to merits review by the Australian Competition Tribunal."

Fletcher also says the government will also work with the states and territories and the National Transport Commission to develop a working model for a forward-looking cost-base for transport ministers to consider in November.

"The ATA will watch the development of the working model closely, because any new road pricing system must not become an excuse for governments to say that the industry should pay more," Watson adds.

"We are overcharged already, as the NTC – an independent government body – has pointed out."

The updated Heavy Vehicle Expenditure Plans and Infrastructure Ratings can be found at www.transportinfrastructurecouncil.gov.au.

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