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Government must rule out plan to tax trucks

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04 June 2020

Australia’s governments must immediately rule out a public service proposal to tax trucks and benefit the rail system, Australian Trucking Association Chair David Smith said today. 

The plans are outlined in an Austroads issues paper on decarbonising the road transport network. The issues paper argues that increasing taxes on small trucking businesses would provide a ‘strong mechanism for influencing and enabling emission reductions.’ 

The report goes on to say that ‘road pricing can provide a discretionary pricing mechanism between modes within the same corridor that incentivise mode shift to a lower emissions option.’ 

“Let’s turn this into plain English. Behind the big words, the report is proposing increasing taxes on small trucking businesses to benefit large corporate rail operators,” Mr Smith said. 

“Trucking is, and always has been, very prepared to pay our fair share, but will not pay more than that. 

“This plan would have extreme financial impacts on hardworking trucking businesses, and only increase prices on everyday goods and Aussie exports, affecting everyday Australians,” he said. 

Mr Smith said the report failed to consider the emission benefits of increasing the use of high productivity freight vehicles. 

“By using an A-double instead of a semi-trailer to move 1000 tonnes of freight, emissions can be reduced by 28 per cent, and the number of truck trips required can be halved,” Mr Smith said. 

“Austroads has ignored one of the main opportunities for emissions reduction in road freight, demonstrating that their report was not well researched and does not provide an accurate representation of the available options,” he said. 

Mr Smith said that the report also ignored the draft Productivity Commission report on national transport regulatory reform, which found it was not possible to assume that all traffic on a highway could be replaced by rail. 

“Rail does not deliver to supermarkets or many local communities. These deliveries rely on trucks,” Mr Smith said. 

“Road and rail are largely complementary modes of transport. Choice of mode should be a commercial decision, and government regulation should be neutral,” Mr Smith said. 

The ATA and its member associations collectively represent the 50,000 businesses and 200,000 people in the Australian trucking industry. Together, the ATA and its members are committed to safety, professionalism and viability.