Shadow minister for Transport Warren Truss claims the National Transport Commission has been exposed using a flawed formula to calculate road-user charges for next financial year that will see the Federal government siphon $2.4 billion from the wallets of trucking operators.
“The NTC has used four-year-old figures to calculate the number of trucks on the road,” Mr Truss said.
“Despite accurate data on today’s truck numbers being freely available, the NTC opted to take 2008 truck registrations and extrapolate a theoretical fleet size that under-estimates truck numbers by 170,000 units,” he said.
“As a result, the Gillard government will gouge $700 million more than it is entitled to from Heavy Vehicle Charges imposed on Australia’s truckies from 1 July this year.”
“Given there are about 570,700 (not the NTC’s estimated 397,000) trucks on our roads, the cost recovery charges to maintain roads paid by individual truck drivers should be notionally divided among a much larger number of vehicles,” Mr Truss said.
The trucking industry would have expected to pay $1.7 billion under the National Heavy Vehicle Charges, but instead, the NTC’s data had them coughing-up $2.4 billion.
“Labor is increasing the fuel tax on trucks by a whopping 10.4pc in one year. Since Labor took office in 2007, the government has increased the fuel tax on trucks by a staggering 30pc,” Mr Truss said.
From July 1, owner drivers and transport operators will pay fuel tax at 25.5c/litre, compared to 23.1c at present. When Labor came to power the effective fuel tax rate was just 19.633c/l, he said.
Regional/rural areas suffer most
“Over-inflating road user charges, in what can only be described as a shameless and deceitful tax grab by a desperate government, will further drive up the cost of transporting consumer goods and commodities, undoubtedly hitting grocery prices at the checkout and making our industry less competitive.”
“Adding insult to injury, these excessive fuel charges are imposed on a ‘per litre’ basis, meaning regional Australians will pay the most given the greater distances travelled to get goods to them.”
Mr Truss said while the Coalition and the trucking industry agreed that drivers should pay their fair share to maintain roads across the country, the latest ‘over the odds slug’ based on an imaginary truck fleet was unconscionable.
“The money raised from the National Heavy Vehicle Charges is supposed to be used to build and maintain the road network. To add further insult to truckies the government is projecting that road expenditure in this year’s Federal budget will be slashed to the lowest level in many years.
“Is it any surprise that State governments are expressing alarm at this breach of faith by the NTC and the federal government? We now learn that even the Labor Northern Territory government has rejected the NTC’s pricing regime in favour of a 3.7pc increase, aligning it with the Consumer Price Index. The trucking industry has indicated it will accept that increase,” Mr Truss said.
The latest Federal load on truckies came on top of Julia Gillard’s 6c/litre carbon tax which will begin to hit drivers from July 2014.
Unless Federal transport minister Anthony Albanese could explain the discrepancies between the NTC’s theoretical and the actual number of trucks on Australian roads to justify the exorbitant extra costs, the Coalition plans to move in Parliament to disallow the proposed new National Heavy Vehicle Charges.
Read Beef Central’s earlier reports on the issue here
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