Meanwhile, the fuel tax increase sits on a knife edge …

The fate of this year’s 2.4 cpl increase to the ‘road use charge’ (diesel tax) is now in the hands of the Federal Parliament.

On 26 June 2012, the Federal Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Warren Truss, moved a ‘disallowance motion’ that seeks to strike down the increase in the diesel tax.

If the Parliament supports the ‘disallowance motion’, the legal effect is that the recent increase to the diesel tax will be repealed.

If industry was to secure any kind of win here, that will be truly remarkable.

The NTC recommended this increase to the fuel tax all the way back at in February this year, despite industry objecting strongly. Our own submission opposed the increase, but the Commissioners went ahead anyway.

And when it reached Ministers, we shouldn’t forget that, across the country, the Ministers from every jurisdiction except the Northern Territory voted to support this increase. Again, that was despite a lot of effort from our National Councillors, asking the Ministers not to approve such a large increase in the fuel tax.

Our National President, John Beer, has written to Warren Truss to thank him for standing up for industry and taking this fight right to the wire.

… ease back on the tax hike, and deliver justice for rural carriers

The Federal Opposition took its decision to fight this year’s fuel tax increase after first writing to the Federal Government, proposing that the fuel tax should only go up by 5.7% this financial year.

Since early this year, the ALRTA has consistently and publicly supported a 5.7% increase, even though we know that it would still be a pretty tough figure for many members.  We estimate a 5.7% increase to be worth about 1.3 cpl – not a small number, but a lot easier to swallow than 2.4 cpl.

We’ve been very pleased to see Mr Truss advocate a position that matches the ALRTA’s views.

Back in June, we supplied the Parliament with a complete position statement, detailing our arguments for why this tax hike shouldn’t go ahead at the full rate of 2.4 cpl this year.

We raised five arguments:

  1. It’s undesirable and un-necessary to apply such a large increase in a single year;
  2. Road trains are over-charged according to figures from the NTC’s very own pricing model. From the diesel tax alone, the Commonwealth Government will single-handedly over-charge road trains to the tune of $111m over the next four years;
  3. The over-charging of road trains violates the ‘pricing principles’ which the NTC is meant to observe;
  4. Rural transport operators simply don’t see enough investment flowing back to their local area to justify the increases in the national charges;
  5. Parliament should not rely on the NTC’s recent advice to Ministers, recommending the increase in charges, until the NTC explains how this is consistent with previous official advice, which Ministers and the Federal Parliament have relied upon in previous years.

Our full ‘position statement’ runs to 16 pages. It’s on our website. Win or lose, we’ve fought this issue all the way to the finish line.

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