Industry call to reconsider heavy vehicle charging regime


Future growth and current investment opportunities highlighted in submissions

Industry call to reconsider heavy vehicle charging regime
Anderson says the ability of infrastructure to be functional in the future environments will be key to its success.

 

The federal government’s inquiry into the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy has attracted over 80 submissions so far from industry representative bodies and other stakeholders.

The submissions include recommendations that the will be considered by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (DIRD) before it formulates a national strategy.

Some of the key recommendations by road transport industry bodies include issues such vehicle charging system overhaul, supply chain integration, infrastructure investment and growth opportunities.

Heave vehicle charging

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA), the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) and the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) have asked the federal government to consider the impact of the current heavy vehicle charging regime on the trucking sector.

The industry bodies assert that the current system unfairly burdens the trucking industry, which not only affects transport operators' profit margins but the industry's overall international competitiveness.

They are calling for an independent price regulator to manage heavy vehicle charging in Australia.

ATA and VTA recommend that toll road and landside port charges for heavy vehicles should be regulated under a future heavy vehicle economic regulator.

VTA suggests transport operators should be eligible for a discount on the current tolling rates "to encourage full usage of the system".

Supply chain integration

VTA CEO Peter Anderson says a well-connected supply chain is the answer to a productive industry.

He says the federal government must examine current regulations in road, rail and shipping sectors while finding better ways to improve supply chain productivity.

The industry bodies are calling for installation of additional heavy vehicle classifications that encompass the inclusion of high productivity freight vehicles (HPFV) on toll roads, bridges and other road networks that currently do not allow HPFV movement.

ATA says it is important to consider the impact of road infrastructure gaps, particularly in regional and remote areas to ensure the success of the industry.

ATA's recommendation has also received backing from the Western Australian Road Transport Association (WARTA), which is calling for a detailed audit of road maintenance and investment priorities.

Anderson recommends developing intermodal connection areas, improving access to ports, rail link with all ports, and more emphasis on addressing 'last mile' issues.

Road investment

The ATA suggests federal and state governments should accelerate road investment to improve the maintenance of the existing network and protection of current and future corridors to reduce the overall life cycle costs of the road network.

It recommends that any infrastructure investment of over $100 million must be assessed by Infrastructure Australia before being approved.

"Government would play a critical role in road funds by setting the funding criteria and network objectives, and then allow the independent and transparent selection of projects," the ATA submission notes.

"Road funds would serve to increase community confidence that charges collected for the maintenance and improvement of the road network will go to that purpose.

"This reform would be consistent with the approach of the Australian Government to improve the quality of infrastructure investments by requiring projects of $100 million or more to first be assessed by Infrastructure Australia."

Meanwhile, ALRTA says the federal government should commit to a dedicated national funding system for road service level improvements in regional Australia.

It recommends:

  • "That the Australian Government establish a national fund of at least $1bn to improve the standard of key rural freight and tourism roads.
  • "That the Australian Government develop a plan and sustainable funding mechanism for establishing managed roadside livestock effluent disposal sites on key livestock freight routes in Australia."

 

Future opportunities

Apart from investment, government must also consider factors such as labour, infrastructure access and future growth opportunities while developing specific supply chains, Anderson says.

While fresh opportunities will arise from the development of new infrastructure, the ability of that infrastructure to be functional in the future environment will be key, he says.

"For example, the introduction of the Inland Rail system should not just be limited  to Brisbane and Melbourne but also be a part of a larger perspective that takes in the connection of all capital cities by an open system linked to intermodal satellite  hubs," Anderson says.

"It is just not the supply chain efficiencies that large scale infrastructure developments bring to the industry but also the indirect value to all of the markets and industry sectors that are reliant on the efficiency of these networks."

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