Truss threatens to oppose increase to fuel excise

Coalition to again vote against fuel excise increase if it believes consultation is lacking or industry will be ripped off

Truss threatens to oppose increase to fuel excise
Truss threatens to oppose excise increase
By Brad Gardner | March 6, 2013

The federal Coalition has threatened to again vote against an increase to the fuel excise if the industry consultation process is beset by similar problems that plagued it last year.

Opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss says the party will be watching closely when the National Transport Commission (NTC) begins a four-week consultation on a proposed 2.6 percent increase to the fuel excise from July 1.

The Coalition last year fell one vote short of overturning a 10.4 percent increase to the excise. Truss was heavily critical of the consultation process, labelling it incompetent or dishonest.

"And we’ll be watching again, very closely, to make sure that the process, the accountability and the consultation has improved since what happened last year," he says.

"If we are not satisfied that the processes have been properly followed through and that the proposed new charges are properly justified, well then we’ll move to disallow them once again."

Truss issued the commitment during his speech at the joint national conference of the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) and the Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association (LBCA).

He also touched on the work underway to reform heavy vehicle charges, saying the Coalition will have more to say once a regulatory impact statement on the different options is released. He says the party will weigh up the costs of each proposal and, if elected, will seek industry views before making a decision.

"Rest assured, we will not make any changes to road pricing arrangements without thorough and broad industry consultation," he says.

Truss reiterated the Coalition’s support for a $300 million investment over four years in regional and rural bridges to support heavier vehicles and to build 500 rest areas over 10 years.

"While some rest stops have been built since the last election, much more work needs to be done to ensure that the road transport industry, particularly when operating in regional and remote locations, has the support it deserves," he says.

The NTC’s recommended 2.6 percent increase to charges will reduce the fuel tax credit to 11.98 cents per litre, a fall of 0.66 cents. Last year’s 10.4 percent increase to the excise reduced the credit by 2.4 cents per litre.

The NTC has also released for discussion a number of proposals to improve the existing charging scheme as a stopgap measure until the work of the Heavy Vehicle Charging and Investment (HVCI) group is ready to be implemented.

The NTC has raised fuel-based and axle group charges as possible options. The HVCI is examining a complete overhaul of the charging system, including looking at billing trucks based on their mass, distance travelled and location.

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