NatRoad opposes end of interstate rego scheme


Clark says benefits of FIRS far outweigh the rationale to terminate the scheme

NatRoad opposes end of interstate rego scheme
Clark recommends better promotion of the scheme to boost adoption.

 

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) is urging the federal government to improve the design and governance of the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) instead of terminating it.

NatRoad has laid out its views in its submission to the government in response to the consultation paper proposing to close FIRS to new entrants from July 1, 2018.

Commencing in 1987, FIRS was set up as an alternative to state based registration for heavy vehicles weighing more than 4.5 tonnes.

The scheme provides uniform charges and operating conditions for heavy vehicles engaged solely in the interstate carriage of passengers or goods, in trade or commerce, or for any purpose that is incidental to the carriage of that kind.

The government’s proposal to end the scheme is based on the reduction in the numbers of FIRS registered vehicles since 2007 and the planned introduction of the national registration system. 

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark says the decline in FIRS take-up is due to a complete lack of promotion of the scheme and persistent persecution by the states of FIRS operators for unfounded alleged abuse of the scheme.

"These problems were identified in the Australian Government’s own review but nothing has been done to address them," Clark says.

"We are also still a long way from implementing a completely national registration scheme and it will not offer the same benefits to transport operators as FIRS.  

"Our members using FIRS range from large to small business operators and they have all confirmed that FIRS has had a positive impact on our industry and must continue."

Since FIRS registered vehicles are exempt from stamp duty, it allows operators to replace their trucks more often and take advantage of new safety equipment, electronic aids and better emission controls that are standard features on newer vehicles, NatRoad states.

"On the one hand, the Australian Government is seeking to improve the efficiency and productivity of Australia’s freight and supply chain and to reduce heavy vehicle emissions," Clark says.

"Yet, on the other hand, it wants to stop a scheme that could be used as a lever to improve productivity in the interstate transport of goods and modernise Australia’s truck fleet.

"The closure of FIRS will be another cost impost on the road transport industry which will cascade through our economy as the increased costs will ultimately be passed on to the consumer of the transported goods."

"Instead of abolishing FIRS, the Australian Government needs to improve the scheme’s design, promotion and governance.

"Australia has one of the oldest truck fleets in the world and any incentive to reduce this ageing fleet should be encouraged."

NatRoad attempts to clear the "misunderstanding" around the scheme:

"…it’s not where the vehicle travels but where the goods travel, so you can use a FIRS registered vehicle that never leaves the state as long as it is only used to transport goods as part of a larger interstate journey.

"We encourage operators to use FIRS now if they are eligible and save thousands of dollars in registration fees before the Government decides to close it to new entrants."

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