On a morning that saw the first snow falls of the year on the Alps, the Federal Government has announced its own freeze this morning revealing it will be freezing the Heavy Vehicle Road User Charge  till the end of the 2020-21 financial year in June 2021.

Deputy Prime Minister and minister for infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack made the announcement early this morning in what  will be an initiative that has been requested by the industry  and is sure to be welcomed by all.

Mr. McCormick  said the Federal Government’s decision to freeze the Road User Charge will save Australian truck owners and operators hundreds of dollars a year.

The Deputy PM said the Federal Government would ‘continue to help industry through these challenging times and that ll levels of Government are taking decisive action to support freight operators working hard to keep shelves stocked and essential goods moving during the COVID-19 pandemic’.

“The Road User Charge, which is set to recover the heavy vehicle share of road maintenance and improvements, will stay at 25.8 cents per litre for diesel in 2020-21 instead of increasing by the scheduled 2.5 per cent,” Mr McCormack said.

“Our response today demonstrates our commitment to supporting the heavy vehicle industry as we put Australia in the best position possible to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Australia’s heavy vehicle industry is crucial to sustaining our economy and distributing critical goods during the COVID-19 pandemic. This freeze will ease some of the current pressures on the industry.

“It is so important we help maintain the supply and flow of medicines and medical equipment and food and essential items to our supermarket shelves at this time. Road freight is absolutely critical to this.”

ATA chair, Geoff Crouch, praised the announcement and said that every trucking business will benefit from the decision to cancel a proposed increase in the tax on truck fuel.

Mr Crouch said the decision recognised that 2020 is not the time to increase taxes on the businesses delivering Australia’s essential food, medicine and other goods.

“As a result of the pandemic, Australia is likely to experience the biggest contraction in national output and income since the Great Depression and Australia’s 50,000 trucking businesses simply could not afford to pay more in taxes and charges,” Mr Crouch said.

“The Australian Government has listened to what our members are saying and have acted. We applaud the Deputy Prime Minister’s leadership on this issue.”

Mr Crouch said the ATA and its network of member associations had taken a united and effective approach to lobbying on the issue.

“In November 2019, ministers rejected officials’ advice that truck taxes and charges should increase 11.4 per cent, after the ATA and member association representatives briefed them on the cost and demand pressures faced by trucking businesses.

“Ministers then identified a preference for two increases of 2.5 per cent, but this was before the double hit of the bushfires and the epidemic.

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said all levels of Government are continuing to work together, along with industry and regulators such as the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, to minimise any unnecessary barriers to freight movement.

“Following the closure of some State and Territory borders, the Federal Government has been coordinating national action to make sure essential workers who aren’t travelling in trains or trucks such as safety inspectors, mechanics and maintenance crew, are able to get to where they need to be with limited disruptions,” Mr Buchholz said.

“The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and the National Cabinet have also approved an exemption for roadhouses, dedicated truck stop facilities and truck driver lounges to remain open so Australia’s heavy vehicle drivers have access to showers, restrooms and facilities to undertake their mandated fatigue management breaks. This is critical to keeping freight moving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have been working very closely with industry throughout this pandemic, hearing from operators large and small.

“As a Government we acknowledge the transport sector has had two speeds during this pandemic. There are those that have been working relentlessly with greater amounts of freight to move, while many other operators across the supply chain have experienced the opposite and suffered as a result of COVID-19.

“These measures go some way in demonstrating all levels of Government recognise the pressure on the transport industry at this time.

“The Government has the back of these hard working Australian men and women of the transport industry who continue to work so hard to ensure critical supplies reach Australians when and where they need them.”