Truckies hit with new toll in trial
The Courier-Mail can reveal the Federal Government is quietly seeking submissions on the move to make heavy-vehicle road users pay "location-specific" charges, in addition to existing registration fees and fuel taxes.
Some Queensland councils are backing the move, worried that road-building revenue generated from the fuel excise could dry up as more motorists turn to driving electric or fuel-efficient vehicles.
The Government is eyeing a trial of the charge, which would make trucking operators pay to run their vehicles on specific roads in return for certain benefits, such as relaxed operating restrictions, better curfew times and improved road conditions.
The Government insists a trial will only go ahead if there is evidence that the proposed scheme will benefit trucking companies, and that the trial is optional.
Business cases will be developed to test the willingness of industry to pay the extra charges for a higher level of service on the road. Australian Trucking Association spokeswoman Emily Mills said the organisation supported the trial and recognised that businesses wanted "better access for upgrades in order to increase productivity".
She said as the trial would apply to specific locations, "the charges should be paid in whichever way works best for each circumstance, whether that be annually or per each road usage".
Local Government Association of Queensland chief executive Greg Hallam said the Government would be forced to act as revenue from the fuel excise began to drop.
"The real issue is the impact these vehicles have on the road and the cost of maintaining the road," he said.
Mr Hallam said councils had historically complained about the damage trucks had inflicted on local roads and called for any money generated from the charge on local government-owned roads to be returned to councils.
"There's been big advances in engines, but also in loading and the size of the rigs - three and four trailers,'' Mr Hallam said.
"So because of those things, the impact on roads is greater."