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Tuesday, 11 February 1986
Page: 138

(Question No. 731)

Senator Archer asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 28 November 1985:

(1) Has there been a Departmental or Australian Transport Advisory Council Impact Study done of the Interstate Road Transport Act 1985.

(2) What projections does the Minister for Transport have as to-

(a) the projected increases to Road Freight rates (per tonne/km) and/or percentage;

(b) the projected percentage increase in rail freights;

(c) the effects on large, medium and small operators, respectively;

(d) the effects this would have on business failure in each group;

(e) the effects on the subcontractors; and

(f) the cost of implementation of the requirement on a per truck/ per operator basis.

Senator Gietzelt —The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The Federal Government in drawing up the fast-track package of reforms for the road transport industry took into consideration the impact the package would have on the industry as well as the economy as a whole.

Around one dollar in seven, or approximately $25 billion each year, is spent on transport in Australia. In these terms the additional $14m each year to be raised by the interstate road transport legislation is miniscule.

In most long distance work in Australia the market price for transport is determined by vehicles on full State registration so the impact of the interstate vehicle charge on freight rates would be negligible. However, at the very most, where some goods are mainly carried by interstate vehicles, any increase on the price of transporting these goods is estimated not to exceed half a per cent.

Against these cost factors there will be offsetting savings as a result of the other elements of the fast-track package, eg.

reduced road accident costs resulting from the introduction of graduated driver licensing and the removal of the speed limit differential between trucks and other vehicles outside built-up areas

lower financing costs as the finance industry perceives the improvements in the professionalism and viability of the road transport industry

improved consumer protection for owner-drivers and operator licensing will lead to better informed entrants to the industry therefore reducing the risks of early financial failure for which the community pays one way or another

improved productivity resulting from more efficient operating conditions.

(2) (a) See (1) above.

(b) Matching improvements in interstate railway cost recovery is an integral part of the fast track package. The measures to be adopted in improving the financial performance of each rail system including the question of increased rail freight rates is a matter for individual Governments and rail systems to determine and is subject to examination by the Inter-State Commission which is due to report by 30 April 1986.

(c) See (1) above.

(d) A worthwhile reduction in business failure is expected as the interstate road transport legislation is implemented as part of the fast-track package of reforms for the road freight industry.

(e) See (1) above.

(f) There has been a net increase of one senior executive in the average operative staffing level of the Federal Department of Transport associated with the implementation of the Federal interstate registration scheme. Other minor administrative costs incurred by the Federal Department of Transport have been met within existing allocations. On a per truck/per operator basis these costs are negligible.

Ongoing costs for the Federal interstate vehicle registration scheme will be minimised by utilising existing State agencies which already register interstate vehicles. The States and Territories will continue to impose prescribed fees to a maximum of $100 to recover the marginal administrative costs of operating the scheme.

Similarly the operator licensing scheme is to be administered by State and Territory Governments with provision for appropriate fees to be collected to cover marginal expenses.