Vehicle levy hits farmers hard

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

Farmers fear a new vehicle insurance levy will impact heavily on agriculture.

Announced in last week's State Budget, the No-fault Catastrophic Injury Compulsory Third Party Insurance Scheme was designed in response to a need to help victims injured as a result of a motor vehicle crash regardless of fault.

To fund the scheme, compulsory third party insurance premiums will increase by a maximum of $99 as policies are renewed after July 1, 2016.

Insurance premiums will rise by $30 for farm fire-fighting vehicles, mopeds and vintage cars, and $25 for most tractors, however caravans and trailers will be exempt.

Industry estimates that small to medium-sized farm businesses could be hit several thousand dollars extra each year for all the vehicles on their farms.

Tammin farmer Tony York said he and his brother Simon would be hit about $4000 extra for their 35 farm vehicles they move between their two Anameka Farms properties.

"I support the introduction of the scheme, however I have an issue over how it has been applied," Mr York said.

"Small to medium-sized farms have a disproportionate amount of vehicles compared with other industries, so they will be unfairly affected by the extra cost."

Mr York, the WAFarmers senior vice-president, said there was a widely held view among other farmers that it would have been fairer to charge individual licence holders to fund the scheme.

"I suppose that would have been hard for the Government to get away with that politically," he said.

Mr York also questioned the cost of the insurance.

"It seems the premium is very high to cover around 20 to 30 cases of catastrophic injury per year," he said.

"The Federal Government has just given us some good tax breaks and now it seems the State Government is taking it all back.

"Not only am I personally up for the extra money for insurance, but that will also be additional to the $1600 extra I will now be paying for electricity and water to run the farms."

Meanwhile, the RAC has welcomed the introduction of the scheme because WA had the worst road fatality rate of any State.

General manager Will Golsby said money should be flowing sensibly into road safety initiatives across WA.

"Alarmingly, there is no funding for regional road run-off sections and metropolitan intersections past this financial year," he said.

"The Budget also confirms the reduction of road maintenance funding across the State."

In 2014, the Wheatbelt road fatality rate was 11 times the Perth metropolitan rate, six times the State rate and twice nearby regions.

Last year, 65 per cent of crashes in the Wheatbelt were attributed to deliberate driver choices, such as speed, drink driving and inattention.

Mr Golsby also said details about its implementation needed further clarity.

Other budgetary measures which will impact on farmers include compounding power and water fees and a 10.5 per cent jump in the cost of the Emergency Services Levy. The Budget also included the venom of further expected cuts to the Department of Food and Agriculture with its budget slashed by more than 10 per cent from last year's actuals.

_AT A GLANCE _

·Extra costs on vehicle registrations.

·Increase to Emergency Services Levy.

·Increase in power and water fees.

·DAFWA budget slashed.

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