Sep 25, 2008

Legislating for Better and Safer roads

Legislating for Better and Safer roads

MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Anthony Albanese Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

September 25 2008

The Rudd Labor Government has moved to ensure all trucking operators pay their fair share of the cost of constructing and maintaining the nation’s road network – as well as implement measures which would improve safety for all road users.

Despite unanimous agreement from all the governments of Australia, in March the Coalition used its numbers in the Senate to block our previous attempt to change the Road User Charge and implement new, uniform heavy vehicle registration charges.

That’s why I have today introduced into the Parliament the Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill (No 2) 2008 and Road Charges Legislation Repeal and Amendment Bill 2008.

Without the changes contained in the legislation, the heaviest vehicles – namely those that do the most damage to our roads – will continue to be subsidised by the owners of small trucks and taxpayers.

The legislation will reduce registration charges for a quarter of all heavy vehicles.

It will also lift the Road User Charge for heavy vehicles to 21 cents per litre from 1 January 2009. This small increase reflects the fact that since the last change to the charge in 2001, spending by all levels of governments has risen by 33 per cent.

The new Road User Charge is about make sure the trucking industry pays its fair share for the road infrastructure it uses – a principle adopted by previous Federal governments.

At the same time the Rudd Labor Government remains committed to using some of the additional revenue raised through the new charges to implement a $70 million Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program.

The Program will fund the construction of more rest stops; the trial of technologies that monitor a driver’s work hours and vehicle speed; and projects that will expand the number of roads that can be used by the bigger trucks.

The Government has already consulted with industry as well as state and territory governments on how best to spend the $70 million. However, this funding is dependent on the passage of bills which I’ve introduced today.