Industry alarm over proposed road user charge hike

By: Mark Gojszyk


Reports suggest an 11.8 per cent increase over three years

Industry alarm over proposed road user charge hike
Ministers are set to meet on November 29 to discuss trucking tax increases

 

Industry is facing a road user charge increase, with the Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) of state and federal ministers set to make a decision on proposed rate changes.

A report in The Australian quotes Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) estimates that the hike, ending a three-year rise freeze, would equate to around 4 per cent per year for the next three years – or another 3c on the current 25.8c a litre rate – equating to a $650m shortfall for trucking firms.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) confirms to ATN that transport ministers will meet on November 29 to consider an officials’ paper proposing an increase in the charge on fuel and truck registration, with any increases to come into force on July 1, 2020.

ATA chair Geoff Crouch says the association is opposing the proposal vehemently.

"There is no justification for increasing the road user charge and registration charges. It’s a tax grab by the state and territory governments, and comes on top of dramatic increases in toll road and port access charges," he tells ATN.

"Trucking businesses pay for our use of the roads through fuel tax – known as the road user charge – and very high truck registration charges.

"The fuel and registration charges are set under a system that is supposed to cover the cost of our use of the roads – but it actually overcharges trucking businesses.

"In the financial year that ended on 30 June 2019, truck users paid $189.5 million more than we should have, money that could have been spent on employing staff and buying new equipment."

Crouch points examples of other recent imposts increasing financial strain on industry.

"Toll road multipliers for heavy vehicles are steadily ratcheting up," he says.

"There is sometimes no alternative but to pay – for example, trucking operators will be fined if they use Pennant Hills Road rather than NorthConnex.


More on the operator angst regarding NorthConnex, here


"The trucking businesses that serve ports like Port Botany are also being slugged with dramatic increases in the charges they pay.

"The stevedores’ revenue from access fees rose 63 per cent in the last financial year, and they hold the current price monitoring system in contempt.

"Their response to a recent ACCC price monitoring report was to declare that it must be the annual ‘kick a stevedore’ day.

"These large companies are extracting monopoly rents from small, family-owned Australian businesses."

The ATA says it has already been in discussions with Deputy Prime Minister and transport minister Michael McCormack about the officials’ paper and its potential implications for trucking operators and regional Australia.

"He has given us an undertaking that the Government will consult with us before taking any action," Crouch adds.

ATA says it will present three key points to ministers:

  • trucking businesses can’t afford to pay an increase in fuel and registration charges, particularly in an environment where toll road and port access charges are growing so dramatically
  • trucking businesses should be able to pay registration charges on a monthly basis to smooth cashflow
  • the government should put in place a mandatory code of conduct under the Competition and Consumer Act to make sure that big customers have to pay small trucking businesses within the new government payment standard, which is five working days for e-invoicing and 20 days for all other invoices. It’s unfair to increase charges on small, family owned businesses if they have no way of recovering the money from their customers promptly.

 

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