Opposition supports rego and fuel rises

Federal Opposition has supported increases to road user charges amendments to FIRS

By Brad Gardner | May 26, 2010

The federal Opposition has supported increases to road user charges and amendments to the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS).

Opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss yesterday accepted the Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill, which is necessary to ensure FIRS fees rise by 4.2 percent instead of 9.7 percent.

A spokesman for Truss says the Coalition will back the 4.2 percent rise from July 1 to registration fees and the fuel excise.

"We have supported it," the spokesman says.

The changes will push up the cost of a B-double to $15,340 a year, while the fuel excise will increase by 0.9 cents, cutting almost one cent from the diesel rebate.

The increases were justified due to a 10.7 percent increase in government expenditure on the road network.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese earlier this month introduced the Bill after the formula used to determine the increases incorrectly recommended a 9.7 percent rise.

Current legislation restricts the Government from amending the figure, meaning operators will be forced to pay the higher rate if the amendment is not passed.

"Therefore, the Coalition does not oppose the legislation," Truss says.

However, Truss called for greater government investment in rest areas. He says more revenue from road user charges needs to be spent on helping drivers comply with fatigue management legislation.

"It is really almost dishonest of a legislature to pass laws which require vehicles to stop but then not provide places where that can happen," Truss says.

Although the Rudd Government has invested in rest areas through a $70 million road funding program, Truss says too much money has gone to other projects.

"With only 30 [rest areas] having been constructed so far, the government is clearly failing behind its obligations in this regard," he says.

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