Albanese determined to hike rego charges

By: Graham Gardiner

The Rudd Government is determined to ram through higher registration charges, but it has made minimal changes to the Interstate

The Rudd Government is determined to ram through higher registration charges, but it has made minimal changes to the Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill 2008, which was defeated earlier this year.

The Bill, which aims to increase ACT-based heavy vehicles registered under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS), was re-introduced into parliament today by Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese.

In supporting the Bill, Albanese announced the Australian Transport Council (ATC) will not have the power to override the Government on setting FIRS charges.

There were concerns within the industry over allowing the ATC to have the final say on registration charges because the state and territory ministers would have the power to decide federal policy.

According to Albanese, the revised Bill gives the Government the flexibility to implement heavy vehicle charges consistent with the Government’s road transport reform agenda.

However, he has refused to spend the $70 million safety and productivity package unless the Senate passes greater FIRS charges as well as an indexed fuel excise.

The funds are to be invested in rest areas, on road upgrades as well as tachograph trials.

Albanese says it is necessary the Bill is passed to bring uniformity to heavy vehicle registration charges, which the ATC agreed to increase at its February meeting.

However, the Senate’s refusal to pass the measure earlier this year led to inconsistent registration charges across the nation.

"The registration charges have been implemented by all states on July 1, 2008. This leaves only FIRS vehicles and heavy vehicles registered in the ACT and the NT currently operating on a different set of charges," Albanese says.

"The Bill will enable FIRS charges that are consistent with state and territory registration charges."

Albanese has criticised the Opposition’s refusal to pass the Bill, claiming it was the previous government which decided to increase registration charges when it supported a review into heavy vehicle cost recovery in 2007.

According to Albanese, small trucks are currently subsiding larger vehicles such as B-doubles and road trains. He says the Bill will address this imbalance by forcing –double and road train operators to pay significantly higher charges.

"However, to assist the industry (to) adjust, these increases will be phased in over three years," Albanese says.

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