ATA pushes for transparency in price fight

By: Jason Whittaker

Governments will have to fully justify any future increase in the amount trucking operators have to pay for road access

Governments will have to fully justify any future increase in the amount trucking operators have to pay for road access under model amendments to road pricing legislation pushed by the trucking lobby.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has released its drafted amendments it hopes will lock in the diesel excise amount while tying governments to building rest area facilities for drivers.

The group will now circulate the draft to federal politicians on both sides of parliament to have the amendments included in the Fuel Tax Bill which will hike road user charges.

The current legislation will increase the effective fuel tax paid by trucking operators from 19.633 to 21 cents per litre. It will also index the charge, with automatic increases each year.

The subsection drafted by the ATA states: "In determining the road user charge, the Transport Minister must not apply a method for indexing the charge."

ATA Chairman Trevor Martyn says that would be a return to the "bad old days" when petrol and diesel prices went up in February and August each year.

"The road user charge could ratchet up every year by 7 percent or more. It could go up without consultation or parliamentary scrutiny," he says.

"Instead, our model amendments would set out an open and transparent system for increasing the road user charge in the future."

The Government would be required to publicly release all the data and inputs used to calculate any proposed increase.

It would also enforce a 60-day public submission period on the increase and a requirement that those submissions be taken into account.

As previously reported, the amendments would also link future increases in the road user charge to the construction of extra truck rest areas on major highways.

"Fatigue is a major cause of truck accidents and we need an extra 900 rest areas on the AusLink National Network by 2019," Martyn says.

"The ATA’s model amendments are a serious, detailed and constructive approach that would set the road user charge in a better way and address the industry’s need for more rest areas."

The ATA wants the Government to agree to the changes before it supports the road pricing hikes, which will see registration fees for some multi-combination vehicles rise by thousands of dollars over the next three years.

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