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Peak body hits back at proposed truck tax increase

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Increasing taxes on trucks would tax jobs, consumers and Australia’s economic recovery, said Acting CEO of the Australian Trucking Association Bill McKinley.

McKinley was responding to an opinion piece by Australia Institute Chief Economist Richard Denniss, who proposed that instead of taxing electric cars, there should be increased taxes on trucks.

McKinley said the Australia Institute proposal to increase taxes on trucks was an outrage – and factually incorrect, too.

“The claim that heavy vehicles pay 12.5 per cent of the cost of road expenditure is factually incorrect. On average, it is actually around 22 per cent,” McKinley said.

“Trucks and buses make up less than 4 per cent of vehicles on our roads, compared to passenger cars which make up more than 74 per cent. This means the less than 4 per cent are paying 22 per cent of the cost of the road network.”

McKinley said that trucking operators already paid a fuel-based road user charge and very high registration charges.

“The national registration charge for a nine-axle B-double is $14,815. On top of that, trucking operators have to pay tolls and a host of other charges,” he said.

“The trucking operators who pay these charges are not the powerful interests that Richard Denniss imagines. They are typically small family businesses or owner drivers who work on tight margins.

“Only eight months ago, Australia’s truck drivers and trucking businesses were hailed as frontline heroes for keeping us all supplied with food, medicine, fuel and toilet paper.

“But that’s all in the past, it seems, and now the Australia Institute wants small trucking businesses to pay more.”

McKinley said the ATA had been working to promote policies for accelerating the uptake of low and zero emission vehicles, whilst ensuring a fair and sustainable road user charging system to pay for safer roads.

He also noted that increasing tax on heavy vehicles, whilst not charging electric vehicles for their road use would undermine public transport, increasing congestion and undermining attempts to improve urban sustainability.

“The Australia Institute proposal would increase tax on buses and would incentivise individual passenger transport, likely encouraging a shift from public transport to single vehicles,” he said.

In his column in The Guardian, Denniss also argued that undercharging trucks for the supposed damage they do to our roads has led to a significant shift in Australia’s freight movements from rail to road.

“Each night more than 3,000 trucks now drive between Sydney and Melbourne while the share of rail freight between those cities has fallen from 20% to 2% since the 1990s,” he wrote.

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