Government Response to the Australian Infrastructure Plan
Yesterday (Thursday 24th November 2016) the Federal Government announced their response to the Australian Infrastructure Plan – released earlier this year. The response includes a proposal to replace the annual Fuel Excise with different methods of raising revenue from motorists and the heavy vehicle industry for infrastructure capital such as new roads. The proposal includes distance charging and while this concept is not new, and although there was no acknowledgement of the overcharging we endure with the current system, the Government does acknowledge that the current registration charging regime is inefficient and would require the use of GPS and other telematics to measure and yield the revenue.
In any case, the Government intends to progress with heavy vehicle reform through the development of a forward looking cost base, and a discussion paper to inform consultation on options for an independent price regulator.
As we already know truck and bus operators will be overcharged by $515 million over the next 2 years, so achieving this reform will be an important outcome. The Queensland Trucking Association / Australian Trucking Association has welcomed the commitment and called for:
- The Government to maintain the previous timetable of moving to independent heavy vehicle price regulation by 2017-18,
- Setting up the independent price regulator so that;
o Transport ministers can set legally binding pricing rules in accordance with legislated pricing and consultation principles,
o Ministers must not have the power to override or review pricing determinations,
o There must be merits-based appeals to the Australian Competition Tribunal, and
- Regular audits of the cost of maintaining and building roads, because if trucking operators are to pay for forecast expenditure then it needs to be transparent and accountable.
The Government has also committed to “consulting extensively with the heavy vehicle industry” in advancing this reform.
More information on the industry’s response is available from the ATA media release at: http://www.truck.net.au/media/media-releases/independent-price-regulator-critical-trucking-industry
The Government media release is available from: http://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/pf/releases/2016/November/pf081_2016.aspx
The detailed Government response and announcement is at: https://infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/publications/files/Australian-Government-Response-to-Australian-Infrastructure-Plan_Nov-2016.pdf
The Government’s announcement included some other elements of interest to industry, including;
- The holding of an inquiry to inform the development of a freight and supply chain strategy, including examining how the productivity and efficiency of Australia’s freight supply chain can best be lifted, and
- Establishing a study into the potential benefits and impacts of road user charging for light vehicles. The Government has stated that a move to road user charging would be a 10 to 15 year journey, if it was to go ahead.
As an industry we are vitally interested in these reforms and will be actively engaged. As your Association we will keep you informed on progress as these initiatives develop.
Gary Mahon | CEO, Qld Trucking Association Ltd