Industry told to expect higher charges


Greater government investment in road infrastructure means trucking operators may be hit with higher charges on a regular basis

By Brad Gardner

Greater government investment in road infrastructure means trucking operators may be hit with higher charges on a regular basis.

As the Rudd Government fast-tracks key projects and prepares to set aside $25 billion in infrastructure funding next financial year, there are claims the road user charge will need to be constantly adjusted to keep pace.

A spokesman for the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) says it is inevitable the industry will need to pay more, with each increase gradually eroding the fuel tax credit.

"Because the trucking industry pays its way, if road expenditure goes up then the industry has to pay higher charges," the spokesman says.

"That is the cost of better roads."

The comments come as the ATA’s Transport and Economics Policy Committee prepares to meet over the proposed 0.7 cent increase to the road user charge, which will cut the fuel tax credit to 16.4 cents a litre.

A decision will be made by the committee on May 18 on whether to back the increase, which the National Transport Commission (NTC) says is justified on the basis of government expenditure.

However, the Coalition has not ruled out voting against the move, with opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss questioning whether the rise is warranted.

In speech at the Australian Trucking Convention last month, Truss told delegates the Opposition would only support an increase if the Government spent more on rest areas.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese last week began rolling out the $70 million Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity plan, which is designed to build new and upgrade current rest areas.

The NSW and federal governments will each spend $8 million building six new rest areas and funding upgrades to 22 more, while Queensland received $6.4 million for seven new roadside facilities.

"This investment will go a long way towards reducing crashes involving driver fatigue," Albanese says.





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