NatRoad’s 2024-25 Budget submission will see the transport association call on the federal government to enact changes surrounding road user and registration charges.
It is asking for a budget specifically for joint state and federal infrastructure projects, and to peg rises in the road user charge against it with annual reviews to monitor its effectiveness.
“Enough is enough – Australia’s road freight transport industry is enduring the most difficult economic and regulatory operating environment in living memory,” says NatRoad CEO Warren Clark.
“Most of the transport sector are small businesses working on tight margins with limited economic bargaining power to pass on costs.
“The existing heavy vehicle road user charging system is broken.
“Increases are driven by rises in infrastructure funding, with no regard for its effectiveness, the ability of industry to pay, or ensuring the right priorities are being funded.
“NatRoad welcomes the Government’s attempt to repair the infrastructure pipeline and recognition there is a tipping point where too much spending results in increased contract competition and costs.
“Basically, the value for money spent reduces drastically.
“These costs then translate into a subsequent increase in the road user charge that is well above CPI.”
The proposal of a cap on infrastructure funding and heavy vehicle cost base will be submitted to the federal government, as well as a repeat of the call made in its Decarbonisation White Paper for the establishment of a $3.5 billion Clean Transport Fund to assist the industry transition to net zero.
“The cap would be subject to review ensuring inadequate road quality is maintained,” Warren says.
“Additional funding outside of the road user charge would still be possible to address specific issues such as natural disaster damage to the network.
“Governments, including the states and territories, could maximise the effectiveness of infrastructure funding by improving the selection and delivery of their projects.
“They should also get serious about delivering National Road Service Level Standards to make sure funding is going to where it is needed most.
“The government needs to roll out rapid economic appraisals for the opening up as-of-right access and extend the Strategic Local Government Asset Assessment Project to improve access decision making.”