CASH GRAB: Trucking to be overcharged $500m in registration and fuel fees

By: Brad Gardner


Transport ministers ignore calls to stop overtaxing trucking operators.

CASH GRAB: Trucking to be overcharged $500m in registration and fuel fees
Governments will collect $515 million more than they should from the trucking industry over the next two years.

 

The nation’s transport ministers have delivered a slap in the face to the trucking industry by agreeing to overcharge operators by more than $500 million in registration and fuel fees.

Transport ministers met today as part of the Transport and Infrastructure Council to discuss heavy vehicle charges and decided to stick with the existing system despite knowing it has led to trucking operators paying too much.

The trucking industry urged ministers to reduce fees to make up for years of overcharging, but they decided instead to freeze the revenue from charges at 2015-16 levels for the next two years. 

A communique from the meeting says registration and fuel fees "will be adjusted appropriately during this period".

Trucking operators will be overcharged by about $200 million in 2015-16, meaning the decision to freeze revenue at current levels will ensure overcharging keeps occurring.

"As a result of this decision, truck and bus operators will be overtaxed by $250.2 million in 2016-17 and $264.8 million in 2017-18 – in total, a $515 million hit on an industry filled with small businesses working on wafer thin margins," Australian Trucking Association (ATA) CEO Chris Melham says.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) told ministers back in 2014 that overcharging was going on and reforms to the system were needed. However, ministers are clearly not satisfied with the NTC’s recommendations and have asked it to complete further work on the issue.

"Ministers requested the National Transport Commission investigate and report back to it with options to advance the methodology to better balance heavy vehicle charges and government revenues," the communique from the ministerial meeting says.

"This decision will ensure that governments can maintain the quality of roads and services that support the heavy vehicle industry."

Melham, who was an observer at the ministerial meeting, says the ATA argued strongly against a freeze to government revenue.

The ATA has also taken issue with a government plan for trucking operators to fund the future activities of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) through registration and fuel charges.

"I also told ministers that any future increases in the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s budget should be paid for by governments, not industry, given this half billion dollar hit to road transport," Melham says.

 

The nation’s transport ministers have delivered a $500 million slap in the face to the trucking industry.

Posted by Owner Driver on Thursday, 5 November 2015

 

During the meeting, transport ministers also discussed changes to chain of responsibility contained within the Heavy Vehicle National Law, such as adding primary duty of care provisions covering operators, prime contractors and employers.  

"The HVNL needs to be streamlined and safety prioritised through the introduction of a general duty that applies to trucking operators, consignors and all other chain parties. By doing this, governments could remove large numbers of prescriptive rules that impose high compliance costs and prevent businesses from innovating," Melham says.

"I’m very pleased that ministers have agreed to a series of changes along these lines, including major improvements to the way roadworthiness is handled. The ATA looks forward to working closely with the National Transport Commission to develop the fine detail of the reforms."

Ministers also agreed to continue work on a harmonised risk-based heavy vehicle inspection regime and to release expenditure plans to show how revenue from registration and fuel charges is being invested.

"These measures provide transparency around the costs of services being delivered to heavy vehicle operators and are a key achievement along the path to reforming heavy vehicle investment and charging arrangements," the communique says.

The council discussed the implementation of an online map of national key freight routes, a process that started two years ago.

"The council agreed to Australia’s first ever national key freight routes map in November 2014 and the new online version brings transport mapping into the digital age," the communique says.

Ministers discussed advances in transport technology systems and South Australia’s decision to conduct the country’s first on-road trials of driverless vehicles.

"The council agreed it was important to share learnings across jurisdictions; have a view on future challenges; and work towards harmonised standards and regulation to ensure that Australia is well positioned to adopt new technologies," the communique says.

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