Truck charges in mind under plan to introduce tolls in WA

By: Brad Gardner


Proposed legislative changes will allow transport department to introduce tolls in Western Australia.

Truck charges in mind under plan to introduce tolls in WA
Western Australia transport minister Dean Nalder.

 

Western Australia is moving closer to allowing tolls on its road network, and trucking operators will be the first in line to pay if the plan goes ahead.

Fresh from a meeting last week where Australia's transport ministers agreed to overcharge the trucking industry on registration charges, Western Australia now wants to give the state’s transport department the power to toll roads.

Transport minister Dean Nalder has introduced the Main Roads Amendment Bill to allow Main Roads to establish a heavy vehicle charge for the proposed Perth freight link, which is due to run directly from the Roe Highway to the Port of Fremantle.

"The funding of the Perth freight Link is contingent upon a state government contribution of $650 million, of which $374.5 million will be recovered through a private sector contribution by way of a heavy vehicle charge," Nalder says.

"The charging scheme for the Perth freight link will apply only to heavy vehicles; being vehicles with a gross vehicle mass of more than 4.5 tonnes, which includes all trucks requiring a heavy vehicle driver’s licence to operate."

The WA Government has not yet determined the charge, with Nalder saying the details of the scheme and how it will operate "will be drafted in future".

The Bill will also allow Main Roads to toll other parts of the network.

"While the intention is for the heavy vehicle charging scheme to be applicable initially only in relation to the Perth freight link, the provision allows for other roads to be included under the roads that may be prescribed in the regulations," the Bill’s explanatory memorandum states.

The WA Labor Opposition has criticised the Bill and says says it does not support any toll roads in the state.

"It gives the Government the green light to impose tolls on roads across the state," opposition spokeswoman on transport Rita Saffioti says.

Nalder claims a toll will not be introduced until the Government has finished the Perth freight link.

"Exactly what that means will need to be worked through with industry," he says.

However, Nalder adds that the road project and accompanying toll will improve industry productivity.

"The heavy vehicle charge is about sharing the benefits of a win-win basis, with the transport industry contributing to an even more effective road freight network."

According to the Bill’s explanatory memorandum, the link will significantly reduce transport costs while increasing efficiency and freight access between Kewdale and the Port of Fremantle.

"Users of the future Perth Freight Link network and most importantly heavy vehicle operators, will benefit with the project expected to considerably reduce travel times," the memorandum states.

The WA Government has committed to the first stage of the project known as Roe 8 – extending the Roe Highway from the Kwinana Freeway to Stock Road – but the second stage that will take the link to the port has been put aside for at least one year.

 

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