Deregulated sector pays the price

By: Chris Smith


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

Tour, charter and express operators will be the hardest hit by the increased registration fees and road user charge that take effect from July 1, 2008 and January 1, 2009 respectively, according to the Bus Industry Confederation.

School and route operators will be able to absorb the extra cost within their government contracts, the association adds.

The 1.3-cents-a-litre jump in the road user charge to 21 cents follows the recent passing of the Road Charges Legislation Repeal and Amendment Bill in the Senate. The Bill also allows the ACT to set its own registration fees.

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

Road transport operators will pay the extra charge in return for the $70 million Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Package, which will be invested in rest areas, tachograph trials and road infrastructure upgrades.

BIC Executive Director Michael Apps says the increased registration fees, though relatively small for the bus and coach sector, and the reduced fuel grant, will increase operating costs for bus and coach operators.

"Especially the deregulated sector of the industry – tour and charter, express and long distance," he notes.

"Government contracted services should see the costs largely absorbed into contracts and, therefore, borne by state governments."

Apps says the increased charges should be reflected in increased infrastructure funding by state and federal government, in particular bus related infrastructure projects.

He points out the Coalition initially made the link between the heavy vehicle road user charge and the diesel fuel rebate, and therefore can’t criticise the Government on the current legislation.

"It is a bit rich that the Coalition opposed the changes when they were the Government that made the link between the heavy vehicle road user charge and the diesel fuel rebate," he argues.

"This means that when the road user charge is increased, which based on the increases in road funding since it was last increased is fair enough, the diesel fuel rebate reduces by the same amount, effectively meaning that fuel costs increased overnight by 1.3cents per litre."

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