Opinion: Age old fleet problem demands action

By: Warren Clark

Government must encourage the purchase of new heavy vehicles

Opinion: Age old fleet problem demands action
Warren Clark


NatRoad has developed a number of policies that aim for improved freight efficiencies, reduced emissions and less heavy vehicle road trauma. One of those policies is reducing the age of the Australian truck fleet by promoting the purchase of new heavy vehicles. That is the key to achieving these goals.

NatRoad has promoted with Australian state and territory governments research which shows that replacing taxes on insurance and motor vehicle registrations with a broad-based property tax could make Australians up to $1.5 billion a year better off. 

In this context, stamp duty should be abolished as it is an inefficient tax as well as being antiquated and out-of-step with a modern revenue system.

Heavy vehicles are already too expensive in this country and adding another 3 per cent to their cost through stamp duty at the time of registration makes no sense. 

Most operators are small businesses who just can’t afford to keep paying more and more for new trucks and trailers. Getting rid of stamp duty would benefit thousands of small businesses.

Newer trucks are safer. This is especially the case for trucks and trailers that are purchased in the next eighteen months. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) will be mandated for new heavy vehicle trailers from July 2019 and for most new heavy trucks from November 2020.

Read NatRoad's call for an overhaul of heavy vehicle enforcement, here

At the time that this new regulation was introduced, the government estimated that about 20 per cent of heavy vehicle fatalities can be linked to rollovers or loss of control, so by having advanced braking systems fitted an estimated 126 lives can be saved and the number of serious road injuries reduced by more than 1,000.

Getting a newer truck would also increase the fuel efficiency of the business, fuel being the most important cost element for road freight businesses.

The single biggest variable in fuel economy in a truck is the driver.

New trucks have automated transmissions that are programmed to change gears to maximise fuel efficiency rather than relying on the skills of the driver to achieve the same ends. 

Electric drive trucks with their obvious fuel benefits and low emissions are likely to become commercially viable over time, but NatRoad doesn’t see that happening in under a decade.

However, when they are introduced into the market the reduced emissions that flow from their use should be recognised and operators should be rewarded for embracing the new technology. 

For example, the incentives that the ALP has promoted in the current election to increase the purchase of electric cars should be extended to heavy vehicles.

The transition to alternatively powered fuels also means that heavy vehicle road price reform must be properly introduced so that the burden of fuel excise doesn’t fall increasingly on the heavy vehicle sector. 

NatRoad proposes that the heavy vehicle road reforms currently under development by the federal government must look at the industry through a new prism: how those reforms can make the industry safer and more efficient with an emphasis on the uptake of new technology. 

In order to do that heavy vehicle charges must be fair, transparent and be stamp duty-free. 

Warren Clark is NatRoad’s chief executive officer


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