There is a general recognition the current way of calculating the road user charge for trucks on Australia’s roads is flawed. In 2014, the government froze the charge for the year after questions were raised about incorrect calculations about the number of trucks on the road.
Earlier this year, the National Transport Commission announced a planned increase of 0.6 per cent in the road user charge for 2015, and called for comments from stakeholders. The Australian Trucking Association has submitted its response and called for a further freeze in the charge until the current anomalies are removed or a new method of road charging is introduced.
The trucking industry pays for its use of the roads through heavy vehicle registration fees and a road user charge on fuel, currently 26.14 cents per litre. The ATA reckons the industry has been overcharged since 2007 because the NTC’s charging model underestimates the number of trucks on the road.
The NTC has stated it recognises the model is flawed, but Australia’s state and territory transport ministers have not yet agreed upon a way forward to replace the current calculation system.
“As a result, the model is still being used to develop flawed heavy vehicle charges, with more than 50,000 heavy vehicles on Australia’s roads missing from the 2015-16 calculations,” said Chris Melham, ATA CEO on announcing the ATA submission to the NTC. “The NTC has recommended a 0.6 per cent increase in heavy vehicle charges. If the increase occurs, the heavy vehicle industry will be overcharged by some $117 million in 2015-16.
“To the Australian Government’s great credit, it unilaterally froze the road user charge last year because of the problems with the NTC model. It should continue to freeze the road user charge in 2015-16, and Australia’s state and territory transport ministers should freeze registration charges for the same period.
“As a first step towards considering this recommendation, governments need to make sure the existing system of fuel and registration charges does not overcharge the industry.”