National Party Leader Warren Truss is again treating people like mugs, this time with his dishonest claims about the heavy vehicle charge trucking operators pay. He must think – or at least hope – we’re all suffering from collective amnesia because his opportunism is only matched by his duplicity.
What Mr Truss conveniently forgets to mention is that the charge and the way it’s calculated was originally put in place by the former Howard Government. At the time, the then Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the National Party Mark Vaile declared that “…the heavy vehicle industry has to pay its way … [and] better roads mean greater efficiency and higher charges.”
So for Mr Truss and the Nationals to now criticise us for retaining what is a long-standing policy of theirs just proves how negative, opportunistic and shameless they have become. In fact, they find the charge so morally objectionable they plan to keep it if elected.
But let’s put the politics aside and look at the merits of the policy itself. Together with annual registration fees, the heavy vehicle charge ensures the trucking industry pays its share of the costs of upgrading and maintaining the roads they rely upon – nothing more, nothing less.
That’s why we kept it, a decision supported by every state and territory government.
And yes, on 1 July a small adjustment to the charge took effect, reflecting the fact we’ve increased spending on the nation’s roads. What’s more, it was accompanied by a 50 per cent cut to A-trailer registration fees as well as a further $140 million to build and upgrade more rest stops, adding to the 95 we’ve already done.
In addition to greater road funding and more roadside facilities, the trucking industry is also set to benefit from a number of other Labor reforms. These include a national regulator administering one set of nation-wide laws and the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal with the powers to set fair pay and conditions.
The trucking industry is a cornerstone of the Australian economy, and we will continue doing all we can to lessen the regulatory burden, improve safety and make sure the rewards go to those who play by the rules.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister