Tunnel experts warn Premier Daniel Andrews on East West Link
East West Link battle justifies need for non-partisan body on infrastructure
Melbourne Airport Drive extension opened
Atlas 5 sets sail to orbit
Melbourne's first double-decker bus ready to rumble when Regional Rail Link opens
$500m Abrams tanks in the wars
Woman trapped under bus in Sydney's CBD dies
We're still going to miss the bus
Linking Melbourne Authority to be kept despite having no roads to build
Burgers in a rooftop train carriage? Easey's burger joint to open in Collingwood
It’s high time Australia changed its current road user charges for trucks.
The shortfall between the charges for heavy vehicles and the money spent on things like road system maintenance, construction costs, road crashes involving heavy trucks, emissions, pollution and urban road congestion amounts to a taxpayer subsidy for the industry of at least A$3 billion per annum.
The current charges, like those of cars, rely only on annual registration fees and fuel taxation. Instead Australia should be following the lead of New Zealand, Switzerland and some other European countries and introducing a charge system based on mass and distance.
There have been many inquiries over the years into changing the system, and there’s yet another one underway by the National Transport Commission and the federal government. In the meantime, heavy vehicle charges have been frozen at 2015-16 levels for an initial two-year period.
The costs of heavy vehicles
In Australia, the road user charges for trucks are currently determined on a national basis by the National Transport Commission. The annual registration fees depend on factors including the number of axles and gross vehicle mass.
By way of example, the current annual fee for a six axle semitrailer is A$6,334 and for a nine axle B-Double is A$15,016. With rebates, most trucks pay fuel excise of 25.9 cents per litre (this will change to 24.8 cents per litre on 1 July), whilst motorists pay 40.1 cents per litre.
The registration fee seems steep. However,a B-Double can cause, per kilometre travelled, 20,000 times the road wear and tear that a family car does.
In New Zealand a heavy six axle semitrailer pays 56 cents NZ (about 52 Australian cents) per kilometre in mass distance charges. In Australia, the same truck hauling 100,000 km a year or more pays registration and fuel road user charges of less than 17 cents per kilometre.
New Zealand’s road user charges, which are mostly made up of mass distance charges levied on heavy truck operations,