Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Page: 4092

Mr GRAY (Parliamentary Secretary for Western and Northern Australia) (8:10 PM) —I rise to speak on the Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill 2010. The purpose of this bill is to amend the Interstate Road Transport Charge Act 1985, which imposes registration charges for heavy vehicles registered under the Australian government’s Federal Interstate Registration Scheme, by deleting subsection 5(6). Subsection 5(6) prevents regulations from coming into effect earlier than the first day after the end of the disallowance period. Deleting this provision will enable subsequent regulation amendments that reduce the 2010-11 annual automatic charge adjustment from 9.7 per cent to 4.2 per cent to take effect from 1 July 2010.

I thank members for participating in this debate. In particular I thank the Leader of the Nationals for his observations. Unfortunately, in the process of his observations he left it necessary for me to make some substantial corrections. He claimed that the New South Wales and Queensland state governments have let truckies down by mishandling fatigue laws and have not provided enough rest stops. That is true. The model fatigue legislation was agreed to by transport ministers at a meeting in February 2007, which was chaired by the then minister for transport, Mark Vaile. However, the Howard government, which sponsored those laws, put no money into rest stops. Once again the Leader of the Nationals has tried to rewrite history and airbrush the neglect and failings of the Howard government from our memory.

The Leader of the National Party’s empty rhetoric is again exposed when it comes to road safety. The coalition opposed our $70 million heavy vehicle safety and productivity package—$70 million more than was spent by the Howard government over 12 years. They opposed our additional $150 million to improve safety at rail level crossings as part of the economic stimulus package. They opposed our additional $150 million to the black spots program to fix dangerous sections of the road network. The Rudd government has doubled road funding under the Nation Building Program to improve the road network and make up for 12 years of underinvestment by the former government. The story continues. The opposition had promised 500 rest stops over a 10-year period. Those 500 rest stops, we are now told, have been discontinued as part of cost-saving measures announced last week.

So I thank members for participating in this debate. Heavy vehicles should pay their fair share of road infrastructure and maintenance costs incurred by governments. This is a principle that has widespread support including from industry and from unions, otherwise they get an unfair advantage over other transport businesses.

Transport ministers agreed in February 2008 that heavy vehicle charges should be adjusted annually to maintain cost recovery and to keep the size of adjustment adjustments manageable. Under the current charging formula contained in the regulations, increased road spending and substantial growth in the number of higher productivity vehicles would result in an annual adjustment to heavy vehicle charges of 9.7 per cent. However, this over-recovers by $116 million. Transport ministers agreed to address this by implementing an adjusted annual increase of 4.2 per cent from 1 July 2010. This adjusted increase will be contained in new regulations to be made shortly.

However, subsection 5(6) of the Interstate Road Transport Charge Act prevents this lower charge from coming into effect until the end of the parliamentary disallowance period, which is late September. This affects over a thousand heavy vehicle operators who would continue to be charged the higher rate. The bill will delete subsection 5(6). This will enable the regulation to lower the charges to take effect from 1 July 2010. The bill does not remove the scrutiny of parliament; an amended regulation that comes into effect on 1 July can still be disallowed. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.