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Keep it simple on climate change: ATA

The trucking lobby says any scheme to address climate change must be simple and national

By Brad Gardner | September 22, 2010

The trucking lobby will push to make sure any scheme to address climate change is simple and nationally consistent, following calls from BHP Billiton for a carbon tax.

BHP CEO Marius Kloppers last week supported the introduction of a carbon tax, which Fortescue Metals boss Andrew Forrest says is better than an emissions trading scheme.

The Greens want a $23 tax per tonne on carbon from July 1 next year, with the price increasing annually by four percent plus CPI until a global scheme for reducing emissions is reached.

Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Government Relations Manager Bill McKinley says any program to reduce emissions must have low administrative costs.

“It needs to be a national system that does not impose unnecessary costs on trucking operators,” he says.

“We’re keen to work with the Coalition and government on developing revised approaches on climate change.”

Following Kloppers’ comments, Greens deputy leader Senator Christine Milne issued a statement saying any carbon tax would be determined by the parliament, “not lobbyists in ministerial offices”.

“The focus of the parliament in this new process must be designing a carbon price that has both environmental and economic integrity, not being held hostage to the rent-seeking which destroyed the CPRS [Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme],” Milne says.

The ATA supported the CPRS proposed by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd because it would have operated nationally and at least cost to the trucking industry.

Under the scheme, fuel retailers would have been required to buy permits to pollute. Costs would have been passed down to operators in the form of higher fuel prices.

McKinley says the ATA will not support prescriptive regulations, which have been implemented at the Port of Los Angeles in the United States.

From October 2008, all pre-1989 trucks were banned from the port. The ban was expanded to cover vehicles from 1994-2003 that were not retrofitted with cleaner technology.

From January 1, 2012 the port will ban all trucks that do not meet emissions standards under its Clean Truck Program.

McKinley says the ATA will also lobby against any proposals to scrap the fuel tax credits or significantly raise heavy vehicle registration fees.

“The fuel tax credits system is essential to protecting the viability of operators,” he says.

The Greens, which will hold the balance of power in the Senate from July next year, oppose fuel tax credits on the basis they encourage greater use of fossil fuels.

One of the Greens’ new senators, Lee Rhiannon, claims B-double registration fees should be $23,000. Those operating nine-axle B-doubles currently pay $15,340, while eight-axle operators need to pay $14,770.

Rhiannon also wants a $1.5 billion levy slapped on trucking for air pollution, noise, emissions and the cost generated by crashes.

“These Greens policies must be resisted when they are no doubt put forward,” McKinley says.

He says many trucking operators are struggling to pay registration fees, which have risen considerably the last few years as governments try to recover road expenditure costs.

The registration charge for a B-double jumped by more than $3000 on July 1 this year and coincided with an increase in the diesel excise to 22.6 cents a litre.

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