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Crippling truck charges compound the country's problems

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D A V ID H A W K ER : Federal Member for Wannoo Shadow Minister for Land Transport

M e d i a R e l e a s e


Country people may be disadvantaged with higher freight costs if a bureaucratic decision is rubber-stamped at next week's Special Premiers Conference, the Federal Coalition's land transport spokesman warned today.

Commenting on proposed dramatic increases in truck charges outlined in a report to the Federal Government, Mr Hawker said country residents may be threatened with a significant rise in the cost of living.

"The Coalition has repeatedly called for an impact study to be done before any new road charges were contemplated," Member for Wannon,David Hawker said.

"Despite the Government's undertaking in March to the Rural and Remote Regional Conference in Alice Springs that this would occur, to date this work has not been done.

"At a time when country areas are being ravaged by Labor's home grown recession, the threat of further increases to the cost of living seems beyond ' comprehension."

According to Mr Hawker a report prepared by 70 bureaucrats over the past eight months recommends the tripling of registration charges for semi-trailers, rising from the present $7000 per year to as much as $21,000.

"This recommendation is in complete contrast to the Federal Government's disown Interstate Commission report which stated that all trucks except the very heavy ones (B doubles and road trains) already pay their way," Mr Hawker continued. "While the ISC report, which the Government said was "dead", did talk of higher registration charges, it also supported lower fuel tax - something the Government has ignored.

"What is equally alarming about the proposal before the S.P.C. is that the Federal Government now considers road reform is of higher priority than the rail and the waterfront.

"The much-heralded but slow-moving National Rail Corporation will be responsible for only 12 percent of total rail freight and eve services. n legs o f passenger

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'Yet a recent industry Commission study showed the Australian Railways costs us more than $4 billion each year or more than $2 per day for every family in Australia.

"Does the lack of resolve by the Prime Minister to tackle this blight show that yet again the unions' views are final?

"It would appear now that the Labor Government is only paying lip-service to its pledge that rural and remote areas will not be severely penalised by increased truck registration fees."

Mr Hawker said despite calls last year by the Coalition for an impact study, no such study has been done.

"In other words, all the assurances by the Minister for Land Transport look as though they will be over-ruled by the P.M.

"Clearly the Minister has long been sunk by the PM as one capable of achieving any reform with transport.

"The Coalition has stated repeatedly that it will support more uniform regulation of road transport as a means of gaining greater efficiency, however, just increasing taxes on an already efficient road transport industry is hardly reform."


28 July 1991

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