Trucking brings in heavy hitters to put tax case to ministers


TIC members told it’s is the wrong hike at the wrong time for industry and economy

Trucking brings in heavy hitters to put tax case to ministers
Inside the TIC meeting

 

UPDATE: A TIC communique has recommended a 5 per cent increase over two years. More, here.

The trucking industry is waiting intently on the nation’s transport ministers’ decision on whether its companies and owner-drivers are to face a hefty increase in taxes and charges, as ATN hits its late-afternoon news deadline today.

Federal transport minister Michael McCormack tweeted his appreciation of the much-anticipated Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) meeting of ministers that followed talks with industry leaders intent on heading off the feared move.

"A good discussion with industry leaders, focusing on road safety, transport network efficiencies & supporting the future growth of this vital industry," McCormack says mid-afternoon

Trucking industry representatives briefed Australia’s transport ministers in the morning on the implications of a plan increase the truck fuel tax and registration charges by 11.8 per cent over three years.

Former Australian Trucking Association (ATA) chair David Simon, former Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters’ Association president Kevin Keenan, Queensland Trucking Association CEO Gary Mahon and Victorian Transport Association CEO Peter Anderson were able to brief ministers before the closed part of the meeting.

Simon, who is also the executive chairman of Simon National Carriers, tells ministers that many industry customers had experienced decreasing demand since September.

"Volumes are down, and operators are competing on price for lower volumes to get some contribution to fixed costs," was Simon’s message.

"All this, and ministers are talking about an increase in costs at a time when industry is still overpaying by about $189 million per year.

"I also reminded the Australian government ministers of the Coalition’s election and budget commitment to no new or increased taxes, which was reinforced by the prime minister at a Business Council of Australia function just this week."


Read how the industry sought to persuade Buchholz against the move, here


Mahon argues to ministers that the plan is an unjustified and intolerable imposition on the road freight industry.

"This planned increase in taxes has unleashed tremendous concern amongst our members," Mahon says.

"We are very pleased that we had a chance to represent our members’ views directly to ministers.

"Australia’s future economic growth depends on productivity reform. We would encourage ministers focus more on energising productivity."

He also acknowledges support from Queensland transport minister Mark Bailey and federal assistant minister for freight transport Scott Buchholz "for the ongoing support and willingness to consult with industry prior to the meeting today". 

Anderson notes the industry representatives had put forward a strong position.

"We raised the lack of productivity improvements, additional increased costs such as tolls, tighter access to the road system and the fact that regional Australians will be grossly disadvantaged should the road user charge on fuel be increased by greater than the current transport index of 0.8 per cent," Anderson says.

The trucking industry even  gains support from what, on the face of it might be thought an unlikely direction – the rail-freight sector.

"I’m actually concerned about any further increases in government fees and charges in Australia’s freight and logistics sector," Pacific National CEO Dean Dalla Valle, who is not at the meeting, says.

"Increased government charges make moving Australian goods and commodities to domestic and international markets increasingly expensive compared to other countries.

"This ultimately has negative impacts on Australian exporters – notably regional businesses – and consumers."

 

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