Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Australian Freight Truck Law (FIRS) Amended

Interstate Road Transport Charge Act change levels playing field
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – The Senate acted this week to right an obvious wrong which was due to cost some truck companies thousands of dollars in unwarranted fees. As in the rest of the world things are tough enough running a road cargo operation without the opposition gaining a fiscal advantage. The Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) commenced in 1987 as an alternative to state based registration for heavy vehicles weighing more than 4.5 tonnes and was intended to ensure charges and operations were uniform for all registered freight interstate carriers.

Because of a quirk when the regulations were ‘tweaked’ any operators of long trucks with registrations due to expire between July and September would have had to pay an extra 9.7% in registration fees whereas from September on the new 4.2% increase passed by Parliament would apply.

Excess charges ranged from a A$295 imbalance for a prime mover plus semi trailer, to A$808 for a B-double, and with fees for such a vehicle, even at the lower level, set at over A$15,300 the tariff was patently unfair and over a thousand companies were potentially adversely affected. 

A clearly pleased head of the Australian Trucking Association Chief Executive Stuart St Clair, whose organisation had lobbied hard for the amendment said:

“Thanks to Transport and Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, who introduced the Bill and pushed it through Parliament the Government recognised that the Bill needed to be a priority to make sure the affected firms were treated fairly.

“I would also like to thank the Shadow Minister for Transport, Warren Truss and his staff, as well as the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Chris Evans. His staff went out of their way to make sure the Bill was scheduled for debate in the Senate this week.”

N.B.    A B-double is otherwise known as a B Train (US) or Interlink (SA) and consists of two trailers linked together by a fifth wheel coupling between the two with the front unit joined to the cab by the pulling vehicles coupling.