The first step in the government’s road funding reforms must be to fix the overcharging of truck and bus operators, chairman of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Geoff Crouch said.
According to the ATA, truck and bus operators will be overcharged by $343 million in 2017-18. As a result, truck fuel and registration charges are too high.
Mr Crouch said the government must make a down payment on its road productivity plan by insisting that transport ministers continue to freeze revenue level from the fuel and registration charges paid by truck and bus operators.
This would mean that fuel and registration charges would decrease in 2018-19 and 2019-20 – a great win for trucking businesses, large and small.
“Trucking operators pay for our use of the road system through a fuel based road user charge, administered as a reduction in our fuel tax credits, and very high registration charges. These charges seek to recover the cost of the road expenditure that is due to trucks and buses,” Mr Crouch said.
“Authoritative new figures from the National Transport Commission – an independent government body – show that truck and bus operators will be overcharged by $343 million in 2017-18.
“The overcharging goes back years, and started because the charging model underestimated the number of trucks and buses on the road.
“In 2015, governments agreed to freeze revenue from truck and bus charges for two years because of the overcharging. In November, transport ministers will consider whether to extend the freeze for another two years.
“The only approach consistent with the Government’s overall productivity reform agenda is to continue the revenue freeze. Continuing the revenue freeze would reduce the overcharging to $148.8 million in 2018-19. It would reduce fuel and registration charges, which would give the hard working businesses in our industry more scope to invest and increase their productivity.
“It is also the only approach that supports the Government’s broader road reform aims. Governments can’t expect to put in place road reforms unless they can fix the agreed problems with the existing charging system first.”
Mr Crouch was responding to the Commonwealth Treasurer’s CEDA speech in Canberra, which marked the release of the Productivity Commission’s five-year productivity review.