AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Higher freight charges taxing on political interests

<p>Political sensitivity about being seen to be increasing taxes will limit the likelihood of increases to road and freight charges, according to the chairman of the Productivity Commission, Gary Banks.</p> <p>Mr Banks told an international productivity symposium yesterday (Thursday, September 28) that there was a public perception that government charges and its spending were not connected.</p> <p>&#8220When higher charges are being contemplated, you can see why there is political resistance to that because it is seen as a tax,&#8221 Mr Banks said.</p> <p>&#8220In other goods and services, price goes up and quality improves and you have a direct sense of getting value for money.&#8221</p> <p>The Productivity Commission this week released a draft report on road and rail infrastructure pricing, finding that road use by heavy vehicles, like B-doubles, was being subsidised by other users.</p> <p>Mr Banks called on the Federal Government to consider offering tax credits to businesses that send goods by rail instead of road. </p> <p>The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has welcomed the draft report, particularly the finding that there was no compelling evidence that increasing road user charges would send freight onto rail.</p> <p>ATA chief executive Stuart St Clair said the report gave the industry a new level of clarity on infrastructure and pricing issues.</p> <p>&#8220While we support a competitive rail network, it should not be achieved by imposing added costs on the road freight sector,&#8221 Mr St Clair said.</p> <p>&#8220Trucking more than pays its way in the Australian economy and we are willing to do so as long as the benefits are seen in improvements to the infrastructure we operate within.&#8221</p> <p>The findings of the draft report are open to industry submissions until October 27, with a final report to be handed to the Council of Australian Governments in December. </p> <br />