Australian livestock transporters say over-charging by Governments on heavy vehicle fees is costing the industry $200 million a year, which impacts on all livestock transport customers across Australia.
The industry’s peak body the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) is calling on Transport Ministers to make a fair decision on heavy vehicle charges when they meet for the Australian Transport and Infrastructure Ministerial Council on Friday.
ALRTA National President Kevin Keenan said NTC modelling demonstrates that operators were currently being over-charged by around $200m annually, which hurt their businesses and increases costs for all other businesses that relied on their services.
“We are happy to pay our fair share but the over-charging must stop”, Mr Keenan said.
PAYGO is an agreed cost recovery model through which government expenditure on road infrastructure and services attributable to the heavy vehicle sector is recovered through vehicle registration and fuel-based charges.
In 2014, the NTC discovered flaws in the PAYGO model and recommended that Ministers decrease registration charges by 6.3% and the fuel levy by 1.14cpl from 1 July 2014. Instead, Ministers agreed to delay implementation of the new charging methodology until 1 July 2016.
“Industry is aware that Ministers are now actively considering alternative options, some of which would further delay a return to fair cost recovery principles. We have already had a two year delay, which is more than enough time for governments to adjust to a fairer charging system,” said Mr Keenan.
“Further delays would be nothing more than a blatant opportunistic tax grab”.
“I also understand that government expenditure on road infrastructure has actually decreased during the past two years of continued over-charging. This just shows that if charges are not pegged against expenditure from 1 July 2016 we can expect to see further deferment of government spending until fair cost recovery is restored – and then there is every chance that we will end up paying for those delayed projects twice”.
“There is only one fair decision that can be made by responsible governments under an agreed cost recovery model. We must return to fair cost recovery principles from1 July 2016 and all over-recovered monies should be returned to industry by maintaining charges at a suitable under-recovery rate until charging neutrality is restored,” he said.