By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Road User Charge (RUC), a Federal Government tax, will rise by 18.9% over the next two years, according to Steve Shearer, EO of the SA Road Transport Association.
“The trucking industry cannot absorb these increases and will have to pass them on to customers,” he says.
The RUC recovers the assessed cost of the impact of heavy vehicles on the roads, across the country.
However, Mr Shearer says the hike is unlikely to cause a migration of customers to rail: “I don’t see freight shifting to rail as a result.
“Rail excels at bulk long distance freight that is not time-sensitive.
“Rail is no good for certain freight as it’s too hard a ride compared to the softer ride in trucks.”
He says customers make the decisions on road versus rail based on their specific needs; whether their freight starts and/or finishes at or near a rail head; timelines and cost.
“You miss a train you have to wait for the next one but there’s always another truck,” he says.
“Typically 85% of land freight is moved by truck, not rail, and probably always will be.”
The decision to increase the tax was made by a meeting of infrastructure and transport ministers from the Commonwealth, NSW, Victoria, Queensland, SA, Tasmania and the ACT.
WA and NT apparently missed out but it is understood the charges will apply there as well.
“This level of increase is considered by ministers to strike the right balance between the need to move back towards cost-recovery of the heavy vehicle share of road expenditure and the need to minimise impacts on this vital industry,” according to a communique from the meeting.
Says Mr Shearer: “The customers will no doubt pass the increases on to their customers, to end up with consumers in supermarkets and so on.
“The amount of the increase in the price of those good is up to the vendor but whatever it is, it will add to the cost of living pressures on the community.”
PHOTO: Cattle carrying road train operator Grant Petrick checks the tyres travelling on the Stuart Highway south of Alice Springs as his dog “Rabbit” removes a prickle from his paw.