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Independent price regulation of heavy vehicle charges

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31 August 2018

The planned independent price regulator for truck charges must have the power to regulate toll road and landside port charges. Extra local government road use charges must be banned, this ATA submission says.

The submission responds to an Australian Government consultation paper on establishing an independent price regulator for the fuel-based road user charge and the very high registration charges paid by trucking operators.

The submission points out that trucking operators are being hammered by rapidly increasing toll road, landside port and local government charges.

On the M7 in Sydney, for example, truck tolls have increased from the same amount as cars to three times the car toll. The ACCC’s announcement on 30 August 2018 that it would not oppose the Transurban consortium bid for WestConnex, despite the trucking industry’s arguments, confirms that new laws are needed to control these spiralling charges.

The independent regulator should  have power over landside port charges, which have also increased dramatically. Surcharge increases introduced in 2017 have ranged from $20 to $30 per container, and in some cases have increased twice within the one year.

Local councils in Western Australia are also imposing additional access charges on heavy vehicle operators. The submission points to one metropolitan example where a company has had to abandon operating at concessional mass limits because of excessive local government charges. As a direct result, the company now runs an additional 1,420 truck movements per year within the council area for a single product line.

The submission rejects the Government’s plan to change the way charges are calculated from the current PAYGO model to a forward-looking cost base.

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