National Transport Commission forums finish up

The final public consultation forum to be convened by the National Transport Commission (NTC) in relation to the review of heavy vehicle charges was held last week in Albury. 

The event was the fifteenth forum held during recent weeks in all states and territories to explain the process of the Commission’s task to present recommendations on heavy vehicle registration and road user (fuel based) charges to federal and state governments. The foums also included ample opportunity for the industry’s various stakeholders to raise general as well as specific enquiries.

Background: The current basic regulations for road infrastructure cost recovery have been in force since 2007, and in May 2012 the NTC was directed by the federal and state transport ministers to undertake a full review and to provide its recommendations by May of this year. If the recommendations are adopted by the ministers, any changes will come into effect on July 1, 2014, which is the same date that a 6.86 cent per litre effect of the carbon tax will be added to the price of fuel.

Ramon Staheli, Project Director with the NTC, told the Sydney forum that the road transport industry had highlighted various concerns with the current system and that in general the “majority” preferred a formula which involved reduced vehicle registration fees combined with an increased road user charge applied to fuel.

“Any decrease in registration charges will be fought by the states,” Mr Staheli said in Sydney before explaining that also under consideration was an Equitable Standard Axle (ESA) measure which took into account the industry practice that trailer combinations do not remain the same all year. 

The Sydney forum also raised the issue of low kilometre vehicles such as mobile cranes and was told that the current system doesn’t differentiate vehicles by their use. Mr Staheli said that the key draft recommendations would involve increases to the Road User Charge relative to registration fees, standard axle or axle group charges for articulated trucks and a new averaging mechanism for the cost base that governments sought to recover.

The NTC is accepting written submissions until April 2, and is likely to hold more consultation with stakeholders (including industry associations) prior to presenting its findings and recommendations in May.

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