Livestock transporter acceptance over RUC increase proposal

ALRTA says balance struck but calls on greater industry say on roads spend

Livestock transporter acceptance over RUC increase proposal
Scott McDonald


The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) is backing Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) recommendations on heavy vehicle charge increases.

The TIC proposal involves raising heavy vehicle registration and the road user charge (RUC) by 2.5 per cent in 2021-22.

This increase would see the road user charge (RUC) at 26.4 cents per litre from July 1.

The ALRTA position was outlined in a submission in response to the Heavy Vehicle Charges Consultation Report released by the National Transport Commission (NTC) in January.

NTC's consultation report on heavy vehicle charges, here

ALRTA national president Scott McDonald highlights the importance for industry and governments to agree on reasonable and responsible steps to re-establish fair cost recovery.

"All heavy vehicle operators rely on governments to provide road infrastructure," McDonald says.

"For many years, we have agreed to pay our way, with heavy vehicle related road expenditure recovered via vehicle registration charges and the Road User Charge under the PAYGO model.

"Back in 2014-15, governments refused to implement a 6.3 per cent charging decrease and instead froze charges. 

"This led to several years of over-charging, but expenditure caught up in 2017-18.

"Charges have since remained frozen, in part because a planned increase of 2.5 per cent in 2020-21 was abandoned due to Covid-19. 

"The NTC now forecasts a revenue shortfall of 13.4 per cent in 2020-21 at current charging levels."

On that basis the ALRTA believes the ledger is now squared. 

"Cumulative over-charging and under-charging of our industry is now approximately equal," McDonald says.

"While all businesses would prefer lower charges, the reality is that the longer we delay an increase, the larger that increase has to be. 

"Unless immediate action is taken, annual charge increases may need to exceed 5 per cent for several years to put us back on the path to fair cost recovery."

In supporting a 2.5 per cent increase in 2021-22, ALRTA is also calling on governments to accelerate work on multi-year price pathing for a smooth transition back to fair cost recovery and more say in how the charges industry pays are spent on road infrastructure.

"This is particularly important given the government’s increased spending on Covid-19 infrastructure stimulus," McDonald continues.

"It is also important to recognise that abandoning fair cost recovery under the PAYGO model will place us at the mercy of governments that want to introduce a more complex forward-looking cost base and telematics-based charging system.

"Industry is working hard to ensure that any new charging model is demand-driven, improves spending oversight, includes independent decision-making and does not impose more cost and red-tape for operators.

"Meanwhile, governments want to retain final say on all decisions.

"PAYGO must remain viable until a suitable replacement can be agreed."

ALRTA's submission is available here.


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