The National Road Transport Association supports broader industry calls for a freeze on heavy vehicle charges in 2023-24.
NatRoad’s response to a National Transport Commission’s (NTC) consultation paper was lodged at submission deadline, Monday, February 20, and aligns with the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).
“We are both asking for a freeze on charges next year and for increases in the two financial years after that to be limited to 2.75 per cent,” said NatRoad CEO Warren Clark.
“We also agree with the ATA’s call for a lower remote area road user charge set at half the national road user charge rate.”
Clark said continuing high fuel costs is just one of the burdens that trucking businesses are expected to absorb.
“Inconsistent and poorly communicated state border closures, purchasing Covid-19-related PPE, higher AdBlue costs and the impact of the previous government’s six-month fuel tax cut are all hitting our industry,” Clark said.
“From April 1 to August 18, 2022, some 2000 heavy on-road transport operators had to negotiate payment arrangements with the ATO because of the fuel tax budget decision.”
Clark said the existing heavy vehicle cost base is meaningless, as it uses state governments’ road expenditure figures without any audit or appraisal.
“It means spending is entirely driven by governments’ budget decisions with no direct link to industry needs or increasing productivity.
“It also leads to new projects being prioritised over road maintenance spending.”
Clark said Australia needs a more systematic approach to building, maintaining and funding resilient infrastructure so there is less need for emergency measures.
The NTC consultation paper asked industry to answer two questions.
Question 1: What are your views on the proposal to increase the roads component of heavy vehicle registration charges and the Road User Charge by 6 per cent per annum for each year from 2023–24 to 2025–26?
Question 2: What are your views on the alternative scenario of increasing the roads component of heavy vehicle registration charges and the Road User Charge by 10 per cent per annum for each year from 2023–24 to 2025– 26?
The NTC said that any information provided on these questions will help inform ministers about the broader context in which their final decision on heavy vehicle charges will be made.