Truck overcharging must end

Trucks are critical to Australia’s supply chains. A significant majority of non-bulk domestic freight is carried on roads, and the Productivity Commission has found that only 10 to 15 per cent of the freight task is contestable across both rail and road. Without trucks – there is no supply chain.

But governments are building in increasing costs on these supply chains, imposing cost burdens on our ability to export and import goods. Additional cost burdens on trucks are nothing more than a barrier to local jobs. 
Toll road charges for trucks are growing rapidly. Small trucking businesses simply cannot afford them. These charges are set by state governments and the arrangements for setting them are not transparent. They do not take into account costs across the supply chain.

There is also a problem with increasing landside port charges. Earlier in 2017, DP World unilaterally increased the infrastructure surcharge at its Melbourne terminal and imposed a new surcharge of $21.16 per container at its Port Botany terminal. Australian Trucking Association (ATA) member association Road Freight NSW pointed out that the Port Botany surcharge could cost carriers up to $150,000 per year.

Separately, Patrick increased its existing surcharges in July, and introduced a $4.76 surcharge per container at its Fremantle terminal, and a $25.45 surcharge per container at its Port Botany terminal.
These charge increases cannot be avoided by trucking operators, they have not been subject to detailed regulatory scrutiny – they simply build additional costs into Australia’s supply chains.

To fix these problems, heavy-vehicle tolls and landside port charges should be set by a road price regulator, which should ultimately be the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) or a dedicated body established under its Act.

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