Libs use Senate domination to block increased heavy vehicle charges

By: Jason Whittaker


In an effort to match rhetoric with substance, the Coalition has used its Senate majority to block two bills which

In an effort to match rhetoric with substance, the Coalition has used its Senate majority to block two bills which sought to substantially increase heavy vehicle charges.

The Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill and the Road Transport Charges (Australian Capital Territory) Repeal Bill were introduced yesterday to enact higher registration charges in the ACT as well as the 1.37 cent per litre increase in the diesel excise agreed to by the Australian Transport Council last month.

Shadow transport minister Warren Truss heavily criticised the Labor governments for voting to increase charges on February 29.

The Senate decision may put in the jeopardy the phase-in date of the registration charges, which are due to come into effect on July 1. The diesel excise increase, however, will not be implemented until January 1 next year.

If passed, the bills will affect long distance trucks registered under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) and the 3,000 heavy vehicles registered in the ACT.

Under the Road Transport Charges (Australian Capital Territory) Repeal Bill, B-double registration prices will jump from $8,041 to $14,340.

"The increased charges will impose an economic burden on trucking operators, particularly small operators and owner-drivers," Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chief Executive Stuart St Clair says.

The decision of the Senate is a win for the heavy vehicle industry, with St Clair using as it to convince state and territory governments to scrap increased registration charges.

"The state governments and the Northern Territory should…listen to the Senate vote and call a halt to their plan to increase registration charges," he says.

"The increased charges were recommended by the National Transport Commission (NTC) but the Senate vote shows its recommendations were questionable."

St Clair reiterated claims increased road user charges are not justified, saying governments are already over-recovering on the cost of road infrastructure.

"The trucking industry is already overcharged by $130 million a year, so the NTC should have advised the Australian, state and territory governments to reduce the charges on the trucking industry," he says.

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