ATA Welcomes Road Reform Engagement

ATA Welcomes Road Reform Engagement

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA), and by extension, the trucking industry in Australia is excited by the government’s recent efforts to carry out extensive road reform. As the body charged with representing the interests and general welfare of the local trucking industry, the recent government efforts are welcome. They were announced towards the end of 2017, and are driven by the government’s commitment to engaging stakeholders in a positive manner.

The organisation recognises the significant impact that the trucking industry has on the Australian economy. It is responsible for the movement of goods between local suppliers and retailers, which is a crucial cog in how any national economy functions. While the industry must contribute to the economy, it should not be unfairly targeted. Truckers are often blamed for ruining road infrastructure, even though it’s used every day by Australians from all walks of life, and in all types of vehicles.

In a press statement released in December, the ATA recognised the daunting task ahead. It will be challenging to come up with an equitable road reform policy, due to the numerous moving parts involved in the system. The key issue of concern for the ATA and the trucking industry, in general, is the National Heavy Vehicle Charging pilot, which is expected to run on an experimental basis until 2020.

The new heavy vehicle charging policy is expected to be implemented in 2018. It was reached after exhaustive consultation with the ATA and other major players in the heavy vehicle trucking industry. They all participated because they will be directly affected by the reforms. The ATA chairperson, Mr Geoff Crouch, was insistent that any working solution should not introduce any additional (and unfair) additional tax burden. Stakeholders in the truck part industry are already over-taxed, and this is an issue the ATA hopes to address with the government.

The current taxing system is expected to overtax the industry by more than $189 million in the two-year period between 2018 and 2019. While taxation is an important part of any industry, over-taxation drives away any potential investors. The existing tax regime is already driving away investors, which is reducing the number of jobs that the industry can create. As a result, it lowers tax revenue for the government.

One of the policy points that the ATA is seeking is the development of an independent road fund. This body will comprise representatives from concerned government agencies. Reps will be drawn from the state and the commonwealth, as well as other stakeholders in the road network.

Such an independent body would be more transparent regarding the use of collected road taxation. It would be committed to the equitable distribution of funds and will consult stakeholders before making any future policy decisions. They will also be committed to ensuring that all collected revenue is re-invested in the road network. This should have significant short-term and long-term effects on the state of the Australian road network, and the economy to a larger extent.

The ATA is also convinced that the best revenue collecting framework is fuel tax. Fuel tax is a fair mode of tax collection as it does not victimise any road users unfairly. Adopting a charging system based on distance covered will unfairly target long-distance hailers while losing potential revenue from larger fuel users who have shorter commutes.

This is a position that is supported by a study carried out by the American Transportation Research Institute. It produced a landmark report on the effectiveness of various road charging models. A fuel tax charging system also represents the cheapest model (regarding administration costs), which could, therefore, net the largest revenue for the road network.

The ATA, like most stakeholders, has its preferred policy points. This does not take away from the fact that the consultative process should be inclusive. While each side has a bias, including the government, they all have a shared goal. Therefore, all their voices should be given an equal say in any decision-making process. The ATA is committed to working with all stakeholders in good faith. Their end-game is to come up with the best road policy for all Australian road users.

 

Categories: Automotive

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