Stand up for trucking

The 2013 federal election, to be held on 14 September, will be critical for the future of the trucking industry. It’s time for everyone in the industry to stand up for trucking.

Our most critical election issue is the Carbon Tax. The Labor Government wants to extend its Carbon Tax to the fuel we use. Trucking operators would have to pay another seven cents per litre in effective fuel tax. This would cost the industry $510 million in the first year, and would be a massive hit to small trucking businesses.

The Government expects trucking businesses to respond to the Carbon Tax by switching to alternative fuels. But it has done nothing to remove the major hurdles facing businesses that want to use these fuels:

• many truck engine manufacturers do not recommend using fuel with more than 5 per cent biodiesel in their equipment
• it’s hard to get biodiesel and biodiesel blends, and
• other options, like using LNG or diesel-electric hybrids, are not viable for long haul operations.

Most trucking operators would be left with trying to pass the tax on to their customers, but small trucking business are typically price takers, not price makers. They lack the power in the marketplace to set their prices to recover cost increases.

The Government’s plan would cause more small trucking businesses to go out of business. This would be a tragedy for the people involved. It would reduce the industry’s flexibility and productivity, and would ultimately raise transport costs for everyone.

The ATA is urging the Labor Government to change its mind and abandon its plan to extend the carbon tax to trucks. The Coalition has already announced that it would, if elected, repeal the Carbon Tax completely.

The ATA is also urging both sides of politics to come up with plans to build better, safer and more affordable roads.

Australia can’t go on with its existing road planning and funding system. Too many road-planning decisions are determined by short-term considerations, like the amount of money in this year’s budget or the need to get something built before the next election, rather than on the basis of long term plans.
There are also serious problems with the way we are charged to use the roads.

The very high registration charges raise cash flow issues for small businesses, who have to find the amount as a single lump sum. Further, the information the state governments provide the NTC to calculate our charges is not audited or benchmarked to give them a reason to get the best value for money. Their returns are riddled with errors as well, because no one checks them.

Australia’s Governments are working on a new charging system, but it could be worse than the one we have now. Their favoured option, mass-distance-location pricing, would see every truck fitted with a regulatory GPS device. Trucking operators would receive invoices based on the distance their trucks travelled, the roads they used and some sort of assessment of their mass.

Government research shows this reform would have negative economic benefits. It would drag Australia backwards, but they’re still looking at it.

The ATA is calling on both sides of politics to announce they would, if elected:

• develop target standards for each tier of the road system, and set those standards so we can use high productivity vehicles on appropriate roads;
• only move to a system like mass-distance-location pricing if there is a proven business case;
• decrease truck registration charges to reduce the cash flow impact of yearly registration payments. The reduction in government revenue could be offset by increasing fuel charges, which at least we pay throughout the year, and
• put in place a review process for the figures the state and territory governments provide the NTC.

We need your help to stop Labor’s Carbon Tax on trucks and get better, safer and more affordable roads.  Find out how you can join the ATA’s campaign and stand up for trucking by visiting www.truck.net.au/2013election.

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