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Food cost fears as truck tax increases

Zach RelphCountryman
Livestock and Rural Transport Association of WA president David Fyfe at the family's Lake Grace business, Fyfe Transport.
Camera IconLivestock and Rural Transport Association of WA president David Fyfe at the family's Lake Grace business, Fyfe Transport. Credit: Nic Ellis

WA owner-operators are warning trucking tax increases could drive grocery and meat prices upwards ahead of a touted hike in heavy vehicle charges.

Trucking groups were last week fearing that Federal and State transport ministers were on the verge of introducing an 11.8 per cent increase on heavy vehicle charges over three years.

However, the Transport and Infrastructure Council has confirmed it is recommending a 2.5 per cent rise in 2020-21, followed by an additional 2.5 per cent increase in 2021-22.

TIC — comprised of State, Federal and New Zealand ministers responsible for transport and infrastructure issues — agreed on the proposed increase at a meeting in Melbourne on Friday.

The increases will be “subject to consideration by (State and Territory) governments where necessary”, according to TIC’s latest communique.

Livestock and Rural Transport Association of WA president David Fyfe said the State’s peak transport body was concerned raising heavy vehicle charges would increase WA food bills.

“We would suggest to the WA Government that the transport industry is facing some difficult viability issues,” he said.

“Additional charges will be hard to absorb so they will be passed on wherever possible.

“This will add more costs to farmers and consumer goods.”

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti noted the State Government sets the State’s component of heavy vehicle charges and vehicle licencing fees independently of TIC’s decisions.

We would suggest to the WA Government that the transport industry is facing some difficult viability issues,

David Fyfe.

Ms Saffioti said it was likely WA’s heavy vehicle charges would be aligned with TIC’s proposals.

“The State Government, through Department of Transport, will continue to liaise with the WA road transport industry to determine heavy vehicle licence fees for the 2020-21 financial year,” she said.

“Our current forecasts are in line with the recommendation from TIC.”

Despite the proposed increase, Mr Fyfe said the industry remained hopeful any heavy vehicle charge increase would filter back into road maintenance and upgrades.

“There seems to be a recognition in TIC’s communique that the money raised through the heavy vehicle charges process should find its way directly to the roads ... so that is positive,” he said.

“We are looking forward to discussions with the WA Government on whether it believes an increase in registration charges is justified.”

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