Greenies push higher charges as A-trailer fees bite

Green group wants truck charges increased despite claims from industry it is struggling with the cost of A-trailers

Greenies push higher charges as A-trailer fees bite
Greenies push higher charges as A-trailer fees bite
By Brad Gardner | March 30, 2011

A green group claims a 2.4 percent increase to truck charges is not enough despite concerns operators are struggling with the cost of registering A-trailers.

The Bathurst Community Climate Action Network has written to the National Transport Commission telling it to recommend governments pass higher fuel and registration fees for heavy vehicles from July 1.

The NTC has proposed a 2.4 percent increase to the fuel excise and registration charges, but the Climate Action Network says it is too low because environmental and social costs are not included.

"As far as practicable road user charges should ensure that heavy vehicle operators pay the full costs of their operation including the environmental and social costs of heavy vehicle transport," President John Kellett writes in a letter to the NTC.

But NSW-based Betts Transport has pleaded with the NTC to consider the economy and the state of the transport industry before making a final recommendation to governments.

"The registration increases for the A Trailers we have not been able to forward on. Extra fuel costs and these increases in your report are not achievable for the transport industry," one of the owners of Betts Transport, Bev Betts, wrote to the NTC.

Operators currently pay $6,372 to register an A-trailer.

A survey by the Australian Trucking Association found that 97 percent of respondents could not increase freight rates to compensate them for higher registration fees.

"Unlike the road user charge which is simply recovered in the fuel levy component of the contract, the cost of registration charges is not easily recovered through business contracts," the ATA says.

The Bathurst Community Climate Action Network believes charges should increase to encourage businesses to switch from road transport to rail. Kellett claims it is safer and causes less congestion than trucks.

"Fuel pricing enables governments to encourage commercial operators to, where practical, move heavy freight from roads to rail and use road transport more efficiently," he writes.

The group has not recommended an alternative charge, but wants revenue spent on financing the development of renewable energy and alternative transport modes.

"Higher costs of long distance heavy vehicle road freight will make rail freight and energy efficient vehicles relatively more economical and will also make locally produced goods relatively cheaper," he says.

However, Betts has suggested current fees are already leading some transport companies to commit unsafe practices. She says there has been a rise in the number of transport companies compromising safety and ignoring vehicle repairs.

"Also with the floods in Queensland freight has been difficult to obtain and freight is going more north than south from Queensland," Betts writes.

The ATA has opposed the 2.4 percent rise. It says governments are already recovering enough money from the industry.

The NTC says the increases account for a rise in government expenditure on the road network. If passed, the increase will reduce the fuel tax credit from 15.54 to 15.04 cents per litre.

In a submission to the NTC, the ATA called for A-trailer fees to be wound back or for operators to be allowed to register the units for part of the year without being penalised for doing so.

The ATA also urged governments to implement concessional registrations for road trains permanently using A-trailers.

Related story:
ATA rejects road charges amid calls for A-trailer reforms

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