A-Trailers: the hidden crisis now facing the NTC

During this week, the trucking industry gathered together in Canberra for a meeting of the ATA’s General Council.

The various Associations from different parts of the country and different sectors of the industry swapped notes and fragments of information, as we do.

And in the 24 hours following that meeting, something quite extraordinary has become clear.

Across the country, the States are so frustrated at the lack of a solution to A-Trailer charges that some of them are now beginning to think of breaking away from the national charges system.
They are now starting to think about simply setting new rego charges for A-Trailers, on their own, if the NTC does not deliver an agreeable national solution in February 2012.

In my view, this is now one of the most serious crises that the NTC has faced for many years.

The whole reason for the NTC’s creation – all the way back in 1990-91 – was (1) to be a specialist national law reform commission for trucks and buses and (2) to manage the new national system for setting registration charges and the road use charge (the diesel tax).

Every now and then, we’ve seen this or that government vote against the NTC’s proposed charges. Sometimes, we’ve even seen all governments vote against a set of proposed charges – such as occurred in 2005-06. And we’ve quite often seen one or another government take a longer time than expected to implement a set of new national charges.

But I can’t recall a time, since the NTC was created, when there’s been serious talk of the States simply setting the rego charge, for any truck or trailer, entirely on their own.

How has it come to this?

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