4.2 percent increase to FIRS passes

Rudd Government passes 4.2 percent increase to fees for federally registered heavy vehicles

By Brad Gardner | June 18, 2010

The Rudd Government has passed a 4.2 percent increase to fees for federally registered heavy vehicles after the Opposition supported it in the Senate.

The higher registration fee will take effect from July 1 this year, pushing up the cost of a B-double to $15,340 and a six-axle semi-trailer to $5612.

The Government had to introduce an amendment to the Interstate Road Transport Charge Act to limit the increase to 4.2 percent after the formula used to calculate charges incorrectly recommended a 9.7 percent rise.

"Instead of the 9.7 per cent that would have occurred on 1 July, passage of the amendments will deliver a much smaller increase of 4.2 per cent, saving the trucking industry $116 million a year and leaving around $800 per vehicle in the pockets of operators," Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese says.

Unless the Act is amended, Queensland Senator Ian Macdonald says about 1,000 operators under the scheme will be hit with a 9.7 percent increase.

"Under a 9.7 percent increase, the owner of a typical B-double vehicle would pay an additional $808 in registration charges. The Liberal and National parties agree that is far too much," Macdonald says.

The states and territories are due to introduce similar legislation to limit the increase to 4.2 percent.

The fuel excise will also rise by the same figure, cutting almost one cent from the diesel rebate.

Although the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) opposes the latest rise on the basis the industry is already paying enough, the National Transport Commission says the new charges are justified due to a 10.7 percent increase in government expenditure on the road network.

"In the years ahead all operators in the trucking industry will also benefit from our decision to more than double the federal roads budget, an investment that will deliver safer, less congested highways and major arterial roads," Albanese says.

Victorian Transport Association (VTA) Chief Executive Philip Lovel says the industry has always paid its way and the latest increases show governments are "taking all they can get from the industry".

While supporting the increases, opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss urged the Government to invest more in rest areas to help the industry comply with fatigue management obligations.

Albanese in 2008 introduced the $70 million Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, which is designed to fund roadside facilities and infrastructure upgrades.

The final round of funding is currently being allocated, but the ATA wants the program extended.

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