NatRoad calls for more action on fuel in wake of budget

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Temporary relief from soaring fuel prices is a cornerstone of the Morrison Government’s Budget, but the National Road Transport Association says more needs to be done for the road freight sector.

The six-month halving of fuel excise will bring down prices for motorists, but the net benefit for most heavy vehicles will only be 4.3 cents per litre.

CEO Warren Clark said this is because heavy vehicles travelling on public roads have their fuel tax credit reduced by the Road User Charge (RUC).

The RUC is currently 26.4 cents per litre of fuel used and, from 30 March 2022, the excise paid by heavy vehicles will be 22.1 cents per litre, which is less than the RUC.

The Fuel Tax Credit for heavy vehicles on public roads will reduce to nil. The Government is not changing the RUC for heavy vehicles travelling on public roads.

“We said before the Budget that we’d take whatever excise relief the Government came up with and even a small reduction would be welcome.” said NatRoad CEO Warren Clark.

“The next step is for the Federal and State and Territory Transport Ministers to step up and provide more relief by cutting the Road User Charge.

“Smaller operators, in particular, are feeling the pressure of increased diesel prices.

“They’re struggling with constantly rising charges, a lumpy supply chain and sky-high fuel prices.”

Mr Clark said the tax measure underlines that the mechanism for charging for road upkeep – and for providing relief – is hopelessly complex.

“It’s not just time to cut the RUC and provide real relief – the whole mechanism needs to be re-built from the ground up,” Mr Clark said.

Mr Clark said there were some good take-outs for road freight in the Budget, but NatRoad was disappointed that the instant asset write-off was not made permanent.

“It’s been with us for seven years and remains available until the end of 2022-23, and it made sense to entrench it,” Mr Clark said.

“It would have given ongoing confidence to businesses like road transport operators and enabled them to invest in new capital like trucks.”

Mr Clark said there were a number of positive take-outs for the industry including tax deductions for staff training and uptake of digital technology, efficiencies in tax reporting and better access to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, and mental health services.

He said the Government’s pre-Budget announcement of $17.9 billion of infrastructure projects will benefit road freight, although the lion’s share of about $7b will go to rail projects.