Albanese says no, but indexation still possible

By: Graham Gardiner


The Federal Government will not rule out indexing the road user charge, but says it will make any alterations by

The Federal Government will not rule out indexing the road user charge, but says it will make any alterations by way of regulations open to scrutiny.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese has altered the Government’s Road Charges Legislation Repeal and Amendment Bill 2008 when re-introducing it into Federal Parliament today.

The Bill, which was previously defeated in the Senate because of concerns over indexation, will increase the road user charge from 19 to 21 cents per litre as well as give the ACT the authority to pass its own registration charges.

The Government’s decision to adjust the road user charge by regulation means it can pass increases if it gains support in the House of Representatives, where Labor has a majority.

However, a regulation can be overturned if a majority in the Senate disagree with the Government’s decision.

"Should the government of the day decide to declare regulations to adjust the road user charge, the Parliament will have the opportunity to scrutinise these regulations at the time," Albanese says.

Despite saying the Bill does not propose indexation, the Bill also amends the Fuel Tax Act 2006 to allow the Government to "prescribe a method for indexation of the road user charge" on an annual basis.

In re-introducing the Bill, Albanese told those opposing greater charges they must alter their position otherwise road access will be denied.

He says state and territory jurisdictions will remain reluctant to open their networks because there will be no assurance of recouping the costs of the damage heavy vehicles do to the road.

"Let’s not forget that operators of the biggest heavy vehicles stand to gain from revised changes too," Albanese says.

"By ensuring that they pay their fair share of road construction and maintenance costs, states and territories are far more likely to open up their networks to these higher mass vehicles."

Albanese also re-introduced the Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill 2008, which aims to increase registration for FIRS vehicles.

According to Albanese, greater charges are necessary because of significant under-recovery.

He says the states and territories are not recouping the costs of the damage caused by heavy vehicles, which is why the Australian Transport Council (ATC) agreed to increase the road user charge and registration charges.

Albanese also accused those opposing the Bills of "condemning operators of small heavy vehicles to a continued and unfair burden".
However, it is unclear if the Coalition, which previously refused to support increased registration or road user charges, will change its position.

A spokesman for Warren Truss, who is the opposition spokesman on transport, says the Coalition will consider Albanese’s proposal and decide on how best to respond to it.

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