Prominent ATA members and trucking industry representatives have briefed Australia’s transport ministers on the implications of a plan to dramatically increase truck fuel tax and registration charges and urged ministers not to implemetn planned increases in the levies.

At the meeting, ministers considered increasing the truck fuel tax and registration charges by 11.8 per cent over three years.

Former ATA chair David Simon, former Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters’ Association president Kevin Keenan, Queensland Trucking Association CEO Gary Mahon and Victorian Transport Association CEO Peter Anderson briefed the ministers before the closed part of the meeting.

David Simon, who is also the executive chairman of Simon National Carriers, told ministers that many industry customers had experienced decreasing demand since September.

“Volumes are down, and operators are competing on price for lower volumes to get some contribution to fixed costs,” Mr Simon said.

“All this, and ministers are talking about an increase in costs at a time when industry is still overpaying by about $189 million per year.

“I also reminded the Australian Government ministers of the Coalition’s election and budget commitment to no new or increased taxes, which was reinforced by the Prime Minister at a Business Council of Australia function just this week.”

QTA CEO Gary Mahon told ministers that the plan would be an unjustified and intolerable imposition on the road freight industry.

“This planned increase in taxes has unleashed tremendous concern amongst our members. We are very pleased that we had a chance to represent our members’ views directly to ministers.

“Australia’s future economic growth depends on productivity reform. We would encourage ministers focus more on energising productivity,” he said.

VTA CEO Peter Anderson said the industry representatives had put forward a strong position.

“We raised the lack of productivity improvements, additional increased costs such as tolls, tighter access to the road system and the fact that regional Australians will be grossly disadvantaged should the road user charge on fuel be increased by greater than the current transport index of 0.8 per cent,” he said.