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Road Transport Charges (Australian Capital Territory) Bill 1993



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House: House of Representatives Portfolio: Transport and Communications

Purpose To require the Australian Capital Territory Government to set certain annual registration charges for vehicles above 4.5 tonnes and permit charges for vehicles above 125 tonnes.

Background At the October 1990 Special Premiers' Conference (SPC), the Heads of Government agreed in principle to the establishment of a national heavy vehicle registration scheme. At the July 1991 SPC, an Agreement was signed by all States and Territories. The main initiative was the establishment of the National Road Transport Commission (NRTC) which, among other things, was required to recommend a set of uniform road charges for heavy vehicles which would enable full road damage costs to be recovered.

The NRTC has faced difficulties in the development of uniform charges for heavy vehicles. The NRTC recommended uniform charges based on an annual cost of $4000 for a standard semi- trailer, which would mean increased charges in States and Territories other than New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. On 12 August 1992, the Commonwealth and six State and Territory governments accepted the NRTC's recommended scale of uniform charges. The NRTC's recommendations were not accepted by New South Wales and Western Australia.

The proposed uniform charges have been criticised by Western Australia and New South Wales. Western Australia has based its criticism on the grounds that the charges will not address the costs faced by the industry and will not give the State financial benefits. 1 New South Wales criticism has been based on the cost to revenue of the reduction in charges, which will amount to approximately $2800 per vehicle per year, which it has estimated at $75 million.

The Commonwealth Minister for Land Transport, while noting that the NRTC had estimated the revenue cost at $56 million, stated in a Media Release that a survey had indicated the cost would be between $13 million and $27 million. 2 The matter was further complicated when, on 13 August 1991, the New South Wales Minister for Transport announced that while the $4000 registration fee would be accepted, a $1500 environment fee and a $1500 inspection fee would be imposed annually on heavy vehicles. This will bring total charges payable annually to $7000, approximately the same as the present level. In the Media Release referred to above, the Commonwealth Minister described this as `against the spirit and letter of the ... Agreement.' It should be noted that the uniform national charge is not due to apply until mid 1995.

Main Provisions Clause 2 will require the Australian Capital Territory Government, from 1 July 1995, to: * set annual registration charges in respect of vehicles which have a Mass Rating for Charging of more than 4.5 tonnes (Part 2 of the Schedule to this Bill sets out the type and level of charge which will apply in relation to vehicles of more than 4.5 tonnes); and * set charges for the grant of a permit for vehicles over 125 tonnes.

The requirements imposed on the Australian Capital Territory Government by clause 2 of this Bill will not affect the power of that government to do certain things, including to: * charge fees for vehicle registration or inspection; * rebate registration charges for particular classes of vehicles or road users; * charge pro rata amounts for registrations that are less than a whole year; or * charge other administrative fees relating to vehicles.

The amounts set out in the Schedule to this Bill may be altered in relation to a year by regulation but by no more than + or - 5% (clause 4).

The Schedule to this Bill sets out the type and level of charge which will apply in relation to a vehicles of more than 4.5 tonnes, and level of charge for the grant of a permit for a vehicle over 125 tonnes. Examples of the type and level of charges which will apply to vehicles of more than 4.5 tonnes are set out below.

The annual registration charge for a two axle truck (type 1) will be $300 per annum.`Truck (type 1)' is defined in Part 1 of the Schedule to this Bill to mean a truck that: *has two axels and a Mass Rating for Charging (MRC) of less than 12 tonnes; or *has three axels and a MRC of less than 16.5 tonnes; or *has four axels and a MRC of less than 20 tonnes. `MRC' is defined to mean the maximum mass of the vehicle, or, where the vehicle has not compliance plate, its operating mass.

The annual registration charge for a two axle short combination prime mover will be $800 per annum. `Short combination prime mover' is defined to mean a prime mover nominated to haul one semi trailer. `Prime mover' is defined to mean a vehicle designed to haul a semi trailer. `Semi trailer is defined to mean a trailer that has: * one axel group towards the rear; and * an attachment that result in some of the load being imposed on the prime mover.

The annual registration charge for a two axel long combination prime mover (type 2) will be $5 250 per annum. `Long combination prime mover (type 2)' is defined to mean a prime mover nominated to haul more than 2 trailers.

Recommended Reading * Bills Digest for National Road Transport Commission Bill 1991 * Bills Digest for National Road Transport Commission Amendment Bill 1992 * Business Council Bulletin, October 1991. * Ecologically Sustainable Development Working Groups, Final Report - Transport, November 1991. * Inter- State Commission, Road User Charges and Vehicle Registration: A National Scheme, March 1990. * National Road Transport Commission, Annual Report 1992. * National Road Transport Commission, Discussion Paper on Heavy Vehicle Charges, April 1992. * Truckin' Life, August 1990.

References 1. The Australian Financial Review, 28 July 1992. 2. Minister for Land Transport, Media Release, 24 August 1992.

Bills Digest Service 2 April 1993 Parliamentary Research Service

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Commonwealth of Australia 1993

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1993.