A proposal to ban pre-2003 diesel trucks from Sydney and Melbourne within three years would devastate the heavy vehicle industry and push the price of essential goods sky high.
That’s the reaction from the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) to this week’s report released by academic ‘think tank’ The Grattan Institute which says trucks are exposing Australians to “deadly air pollution”.
“The idea of banning trucks from capital cities is bonkers,” said NatRoad CEO Warren Clark.
“There is no market for electric or hydrogen trucks in Australia yet so forcing an industry out of the country’s most populous cities is mad.
“The opening chapter of the report is a dead giveaway – it says that people love home deliveries and stocked supermarket shelves but that trucks that make these possible are ‘hard to love’.
“Painting trucks as the enemy is counter-productive in the extreme.”
Clark said that NatRoad’s national research shows that 98 per cent of people regard road freight as an essential industry and 99 per cent consider it important to the economy.
“It shows that about two-thirds (68 per cent) will make a trade-off of waiting longer for goods, accepting less variety, or paying more to help make road freight more environmentally sustainable.”
Clark said the rest of the report was patchy, at best.
“NatRoad supports moving to Euro VI emission standards. That should be accompanied by mass concessions on axles.
“There should be subsidies for those who move to Euro VI to accommodate reduced pay load. This needs occur with all technical and economic issues clearly set out and dealt with in a carefully planned way.
“Nowhere does it call for the abolition of the 3 per cent stamp duty on new truck purchases which should be the first thing to go to drive a move to alternative fuels.”
Clark said The Grattan Institute was vocal in seeking a move to trucks with wider dimensions, but silent on general lack of fit-for-purpose regulation for trucks that remains a drag on productivity.
“NatRoad is committed to helping members with the process of decarbonisation but the move will need greater investment in technology and financial incentives to stimulate change to alternatively fuelled vehicles.
“A scarcity of charging stations, long charging times compared to filling with diesel and higher up-front purchase costs are all major hurdles and mentioned in the Grattan Report.
“Some of its proposed solutions are heavy-handed grabs for headlines.
“Banning trucks from cities should be second place to encouraging their owners with incentives and assistance.”
To help Australia meet its target of net-zero emissions by 2050, The Grattan Institute is also calling for the federal government to impose binding sales targets for zero-emissions trucks, starting at 2 per cent in 2024 and gradually increasing to cover most new sales by 2040.