Registration fees and road user charge to rise from July 1

Heavy vehicle rego fees to rise, as Rudd Government pushes for increase in road user charge

By Brad Gardner

Trucking operators will be slugged with higher registration fees from July 1, as the Rudd Government pushes for an increase in the road user charge at the same time.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has recommended a 3.2 percent increase in registration fees, claiming it is justified on the basis of increased government expenditure on the road network.

B-double operators will be most affected by the increase, with fees rising almost $3,000, from $9,330 to $12,214. Semi-trailer fees will jump $240, from $5,070 last financial year to $5,310 this year.

These increases will coincide with a hike in the road user charge from 21 cents a litre to 21.7 cents.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese has written to the NTC, asking it to consult industry stakeholders on the 1.7 cent increase and then report back to him.

In its consultation paper released today, the NTC says the increases will deliver key benefits for trucking operators.

"Revenue recovered through heavy vehicle charges contributes to building better and safer roads for improved higher productivity vehicle access," the government body says.

According to the NTC, "there has been a substantial increase in arterial road expenditure" at a federal, state and territory level to improve roads and bridges.

However, it claims local governments have not increased their investment in their respective road networks.

"Local government road expenditure data has remained flat in real terms," the NTC says.

The changes in registration fees stem from the 2007 agreement to annually adjust charges. B-doubles were significantly affected due to claims larger vehicles were not paying "their fair share of road infrastructure costs".

The Australian Transport Council last year adopted the 2007 Heavy Vehicle Charges Determination, while the Government amended the Fuel Tax Act to give it the power to adjust the road user charge.

The Government tried to gain the power to index the charge but backed down after the Senate refused to support the measure.

As part of the amendments made to the Act, Albanese must give 60 days notice of an intention to raise the charge and publicly release relevant documents justifying his decision.

"In addition, the amended legislation requires that I consider any comments received from the public in relation to the proposed increase," Albanese wrote in his letter to the NTC.

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