Tour, charter and express operators hit by road user charge

By: Chris Smith

Tour, charter and express operators will be the hardest hit by the increased road user charge and new registration fees

Tour, charter and express operators will be the hardest hit by the increased road user charge and new registration fees say the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC).

BIC Executive Director Michael Apps says school and route operators will be able to absorb the extra cost within their government contracts.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese says the 1.3 cents per litre increase is justified because the road user charge has not changed since 2001 despite a 33 percent rise in government expenditure.

The Road Charges Legislation and Repeal Amendment Bill will also allow the ACT to set its own registration fees.

The Bill was passed alongside the Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill, which will alter fees under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS).

"Without the changes contained in the legislation the heaviest vehicles – namely those that do the most damage to our roads – would have continued to be subsidised by the owners of small trucks and the taxpayer," Albanese says.

"It provides for fair and transparent road charges, a level playing field for all transport modes and will provide governments an incentive to invest in the infrastructure essential to Australia’s social and economic future."

Similar registration charges were passed by state and territory governments earlier this year after the Australian Transport Council (ATC) agreed to implement the recommendations of the National Transport Commission (NTC).

Albanese says the Bill will also result in safety and productivity benefits for the trucking industry in the form of the $70 million Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program.

"The program will fund the construction of more rest stops along our nation’s highways, with consultations with industry as well as state and territory governments on where they should be built already underway," Albanese says.

Future increases to the road user charge will not be indexed after the Government accepted amendments following consultations with industry groups and senators.

Albanese says the legislation’s passage completes the process begun by the previous government.

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