Ministers align to slug trucking industry with higher charges

By: Jason Whittaker

Labor transport ministers have aligned to force through significant road pricing increases for the trucking industry over the next three

Labor transport ministers have aligned to force through significant road pricing increases for the trucking industry over the next three years. While an increase to the diesel excise of 1.365 cents per litre, and for the first time indexed annually, has been delayed until January next year, registration charges as proposed by the National Transport Commission (NTC) will still be phased in from July this year.

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has announced the changes after a meeting with state and territory transport ministers today.

A statement from the new federal Minister highlights a $70 million road safety package before revealing the decision the trucking industry has been dreading.

Albanese says the investment in road safety and transport productivity was made possible by the decision to overhaul and introduce "fairer" heavy vehicle charges.

He says registration charges on some multi-combination trucks will almost double in three years because they "currently don't pay their fair share".

The charges will be phased in over three years.

Albanese says the fuel excise, collected by the Commonwealth, had to be indexed "to cover future road costs".

"It is important that heavy vehicles pay their fair share of road construction costs as well as for the damage they do to the road network — a principle embraced by successive governments as well as the transport industry," he says.
"At present this is not happening."

He says the new charges will have "only a marginal impact on a vehicle's operating costs".

"We have carefully considered the proposed changes taking into account industry and stakeholder feedback received during the consultation period that followed the release of the draft Regulation Impact Statement last July," he says.

The new charging system will begin on January 1 next year.

The four-year, $70 million Federal Government Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Plan includes a program to trial tachograph technology for trucks that could eventually replace logbooks.

As ATN has reported, states are planning to test the technology in the coming months.

Albanese has also pledged to upgrade freight routes to carry higher mass vehicles and construct more heavy vehicle rest stops and parking areas.

"It is our intention to directly involve the trucking industry in the process of putting the available funds to the best possible use," he says.

"As well as improving road safety, our plan will help lift national productivity by funding upgrades to the road network such as the strengthening of bridges.
"This targeted investment in the road network will open more roads to heavy vehicles, freeing up the movement of freight across the country and easing congestion."

The states have also agreed to investigate the introduction of mandatory, periodic health checks for truck drivers as well as conduct further work on new national standards for random drug and alcohol testing.

Albanese says about one in five road deaths involve heavy vehicles, with speed a factor in around 30 percent of crashes and driver fatigue in up to 60 percent.

"This is simply not good enough and should be a call to action for all governments, industry as well as the broader community," he says.

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