02 November 2015

Trucking urges transport ministers to be fair when they discuss heavy vehicle charges.

Transport ministers should agree to lower heavy vehicle fees next financial year to make up for years of overcharging, according to the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA).

The lobby group has put forward its proposal for registration and fuel charges ahead of a crucial meeting this week that will decide fees for the 2016-2017 financial year.

Australia’s transport ministers will gather on November 6 to discuss charges, which ALRTA president Kevin Keenan says are currently far above what industry should be paying.

“NTC [National Transport Commission] modelling demonstrates that operators are currently overcharged by around $200m annually.  These charges hurt transport operators and increase costs for all other businesses that rely on our services. We are happy to pay our fair share but the over-charging must stop,” he says.

“There is only one fair decision that can be made by responsible governments under an agreed cost recovery model.  We must return to fair cost recovery principles from July 1, 2016 and all over-recovered monies should be returned to industry by maintaining charges at a suitable under-recovery rate until charging neutrality is restored.”

The NTC proposed changes to the existing charging system in 2014 to prevent the trucking industry being charged too much, but transport ministers decided to delay implementation until July 1 next year.

The NTC’s recommendations would have led to a decrease in registration charges and the fuel excise. Keenan is concerned the proposals will be put off again.

“Industry is aware that ministers are now actively considering alternative options, some of which would further delay a return to fair cost recovery principles.  We have already had a two year delay, which is more than enough time for governments to adjust to a fairer charging system,” Keenan says.

“Further delays would be nothing more than a blatant opportunistic tax grab”.

Heavy vehicle charges are designed to cover the government’s cost of investing in the road network, but Keenan says expenditure levels have fallen during the two years since the NTC’s recommendation. Meanwhile, truck charges have continued to rise.

The South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) is also urging transport ministers to stop the trucking industry from being overcharged.

SARTA executive director Steve Shearer told the ABC B-double operators are being overcharged by 17 per cent.

Extracted in full from Owner Driver.