TRANSPORT and farming industry bodies have slammed a Federal Government decision under which truck and bus operators will be overcharged almost $190 million over two years.
State and federal transport and planning ministers agreed at a Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting in Hobart last week to lift a freeze on revenue collected from heavy vehicle operator charges from July 1 next year.
The freeze was introduced in 2014 after the National Transport Commission found the model determining heavy vehicle charges (the PAYGO framework) underestimated truck numbers by about 70,000 a year. This led to truck and bus operators being overcharged about $250 million a year.
The NTC recommended cutting registration charges by 6.3 per cent and the fuel levy by 1.14c a litre from July 1, 2014.
National Farmers' Federation president Fiona Simson said the decision would disadvantage primary producers.
"It is disappointing that governments are artificially adding to road freight costs at a time when they should be doing more to reduce cost and improve efficiency," she said.
Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association executive director Kevin Keenan said he was "bitterly disappointed by the decision".
Australian Trucking Association's chair Geoff Crouch, said the charges were crushing small businesses.
A Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development spokesman said charges were not going up when they were adjusted for inflation.
"In real terms, they are lower still," he said.
"Claims that heavy vehicle charges are a crushing burden that small businesses cannot cope with need to be considered in this context."