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A future strategy for road supply and charging in Australia

Launched by ATA Chairman David Simon in a televised address at the National Press Club on 3 April 2013, this independent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers makes recommendations for the future of the road planning, funding and charging system in Australia.

The report recommends that governments should set defined target standards for the roads in each tier of the freight network. The standards would be set so the industry could use high productivity vehicles on key freight routes.

There should be a transparent formula for allocating the charges paid by the trucking industry to upgrading key routes, last mile connections and local roads to meet the standards.

As a longer term prospect, the report argues that road funding and access decisions should be separated from day-to-day politics – potentially through the establishment of a national road fund. The national road fund would develop investment and maintenance plans for major freight routes.

Governments would be responsible for the overall direction of road investment through a master planning process. The report recognises there would also need to be a ministerial power of direction available for use in exceptional circumstances..

The report examines the way the trucking industry is charged for its use of the road system. The industry currently pays an effective fuel tax of 25.5 cents per litre and extremely high registration charges. It costs more than $14,400 a year to register a nine-axle B-double, without including the cost of compulsory third party insurance.

It recommends that governments should reduce truck registration charges and increase the effective fuel tax paid by trucking operators to offset the decreased role of registration charges. The industry would pay a similar amount compared to the current system, but small operators wouldn’t have to manage their cash to make a huge lump sum payment once a year.