Industry concerned over $1b port access 'tax'


Melbourne Port access charge will slug operators $1 billion over decade, but industry will fight any "tax"

Industry concerned over $1b port access 'tax'
Industry concerned over $1b port access 'tax'
By Jason Whittaker | December 11, 2009

The Victorian Government plans to slug the trucking sector almost $1 billion over the next decade in a move it says will ease traffic congestion around the port precinct.

But the trucking industry is cynical about the plan, vowing to fight any blatant revenue gouging of transport operators.

The Government says it is committed to introducing its Road Freight Access Charge at the Port of Melbourne – similar to a scheme at Port Botany in Sydney – next year.

Part of the State’s transport master plan, the Government estimates the scheme could raise some $100 million annually in revenue, or $960 million over the next decade.

Roads and Ports Minister Tim Pallas insists nothing has been finalised, with consultation ongoing with the transport industry.

A spokesperson for the Minister says the Government will make an announcement "at some point in the future".

SCR understands industry representatives are working with the Government but are concerned about the operation of any scheme and the impact on transport providers and the supply chain.

"If it’s simply a tax we’ll fight against it," one representative involved in the consultation says.

The Government says the scheme will "encourage more efficient and sustainable use of Victoria’s freight network infrastructure".

In an infrastructure funding submission to the Federal Government released earlier this year, the Government said it was "considering" road pricing measures and that applying it to the port would be the "first instance".

SCR has been unable to confirm whether the scheme could be extended to other roads.

The funding submission stated an access charge will improve use of the principal freight network while encouraging off-peak network use and more rail utilisation.

But industry groups are opposed to "influencing market behaviour with pricing", the representative says, insisting it won’t encourage off-peak use because most customers will only accept container deliveries during peak times.

The Government hopes the revenue raised will help pay for its largely unfunded $38 billion transport plan.

The State’s funding applications were rejected in the last round of AusLink submissions but Pallas’ spokesperson says another submission has been made.

He says the access charge will deliver better quality roads and the trucking industry "does appreciate that".


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