Heavy vehicle charges process not transparent, ATA claims


Peak trucking lobby pushes for changes to how heavy vehicle charges are determined

By Brad Gardner

The peak trucking lobby is pushing for changes to how heavy vehicle charges are determined, saying the current process is not good enough.

Citing a lack of transparency under existing arrangements, the Australian Trucking Association wants the Federal Government to introduce a national disclosure scheme.

The states and territories do not publicly release data inputs on the road expenditure figures they submit to the National Transport Commission, which determines if new charges are justified on the basis of government investment in the road network.

But under the ATA’s proposal, jurisdictions will be forced to release all data, which the ATA says will allow the industry make a more informed decision on whether to support increases.

"It would improve the transparency of the NTC’s calculations, and would also provide the states and territories with a strong incentive to improve the quality of the information they provide," ATA Chairman Trevor Martyn says.

A spokesman for the group claims the current process has led to at least one state, which he declined to name, submitting flawed data.

He says the figures on enforcement expenditure fluctuated erratically from year to year, raising concerns over the quality of collection methods because enforcement expenditure is expected to remain steady.

As such, the spokesman claims it is hard to compare expenditure between states when determining whether to support higher charges.

Although saying the error did not affect the NTC’s recent decision to recommend a 3.2 percent increase to heavy vehicle charges, the ATA is concerned of the potential for future increases to be influenced by erroneous figures.

"There is a general recognition that the quality and transparency of data needs to be improved," the spokesman says.
"We will be pressing on with this data quality issue."

Despite its concerns, the ATA supported the 0.7 cent increase to the road user charge, as well as changes to registration fees.

From July 1, the fuel tax credit will fall to 16.44 cents, while the 3.2 percent in registration fees means the cost of a B-double will jump 2,884, with semi-trailer charges rising by $240.

ATN has contacted the office of Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese for comment.

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