The reaction of the trucking industry needs to be swift, united and well targeted if and when the government rip-off returns, with the proposed increase in the Road User Charge (RUC). An unfair and badly managed levy on the trucking is being increased for no reason other than to top up revenue, even though the government itself has admitted it is already overcharging us.
To add insult to injury, the government is also going against rules it brought in with the Fuel Tax Act 2016 in which the Minister is required to make any proposed increases publicly available, along with information justifying the increase, at least 60 days before any decision, to allow for comments in response to the proposal.
Instead the trucking industry has been made aware in the few days leading up to the Transport Infrastructure Council meeting this Friday, that there is a proposal on the table to introduce an 11.4 per cent increase in the RUC over the next three years. This equates to an 11.8 per cent increase when compounding calculations are included.
Trucking industry’s anger should be unconfined in the light of this proposal. In 2014, the National Transport Commission informed the government that the RUC calculations had been wrong and the transport industry had been overcharged for years. The principle behind the RUC should have been that it would levy the amount needed to keep road infrastructure capable of handling the freight industry’s wear and tear on those roads.
The reaction, at the time, was not to reduce the RUC to the correct level, but freeze the amount charged. The rip-off would continue, but wouldn’t get any worse. This freeze has meant the government has knowingly ripped off the trucking industry by $1.4 billion in the last five years.
Now, without any warning or discussion, a decision is expected to be made to ramp up the rip-off and start overcharging the trucking industry even more. “We know we have been over-charging you for the last five years, so now we have decided to overcharge you even more over the next three,” seems to be the message from Canberra.
This is such a blatant attack on the the entire supply chain, at a time when the economy is faltering and in need of some stimulus. Overcharging one of the key elements of economic growth is most likely to have a negative effect on an already worrying situation.
Our reaction needs to be strong, immediate and united. The entire logistics industry needs to come out with one voice and call out this government for its sheer duplicity, hypocrisy and willingness to take risks with the weak economic growth we do have.
The fact that the planned charging hike goes against just about all of the principles laid down around this topic is just icing on the cake.
The RUC is supposed to pay for the road infrastructure the trucking industry needs and it has been shown that it does with $1.4 billion to spare. The rules state that any increase in RUC should be flagged well in advance to ensure stakeholder have time to examine the proposal and the workings behind it, in order to be able to comment.
When the government rip-off returns, the Federal Government is clearly willing to kick the trucking industry in the teeth in order to ensure it fulfils its promise to end the financial year with a surplus. They obviously decided the trucking industry would not fight back with enough vigour to dent their image. A single minded and united front from everyone concerned with freight is needed to prove them wrong, on both counts.