Heavy vehicle charges issues discussion paper

09 February 2012

Australia’s transport ministers should slash the registration charges on B-doubles from $15,708 to $10,995 per year, according to the ATA’s submission in response to a National Transport Commission (NTC) discussion paper about heavy vehicle charges.

In November last year, transport ministers directed the NTC to find a solution to the extremely high registration charges on A-trailers: the special lead trailers used in B-doubles and B-triples.

The registration charge for a tri-axle A-trailer increased from $1,065 in 2007-08 to $6,525 in 2011-12. As a result, the registration charge on a nine-axle B-double increased from $8,041 in 2007-08 to $15,708 in 2011-12, an increase of 88 per cent.

As a result of the dramatic increase in charges, many trucking operators are now moving away from using B-doubles. If this continues, the result will be an increased number of accidents and lower productivity, because B-doubles are safer and carry more than conventional semi-trailers.

To reverse the decline, the ATA recommends that A-trailers and semitrailers should be subject to the same registration charge.

As a result, the registration charge for a tri-axle A-trailer would fall from $6,525 to $1,472. The registration charge for a nine-axle B-double, including the prime mover, would fall from $15,708 to $10,995.

The submission warns that none of the four options put forward by the NTC in its discussion paper would fix the A-trailer problem.

It also rejects the NTC’s recommendation that all registration charges and the effective fuel tax paid by trucking operators should increase 5.7 per cent from 1 July 2012. In conjunction with the NTC’s options for adjusting A-trailer charges, this could see the effective fuel tax on the industry increase by as much as 2.9 cents per litre, from 23.1 to 26 cents.

The ATA’s modelling shows the effective fuel tax paid by trucking operators should increase by no more than 3.7 per cent, which would take it from 23.1 to 23.9 cents per litre.