Epic Fail by the ATO, ACCC Involved in Road Tolls and National Harmonisation

This week has seen an Epic Fail by the ATO, ACCC Involved in Road Tolls and National Harmonisation coming onto the agenda in a real way.

According to the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), the epic size of the tax office’s failure to consult about its decision to slash employee truck driver travel expenses has got industry associations up in arms.

During the 2017–18 income year, the tax office will allow employee truck drivers to claim just $55.30 per day in travel expenses (excluding accommodation) without detailed receipts. In 2016–17, the amount allowed was $97.40. In the same determination, the tax office increased the reasonable food and drink allowance for comparable employees in other industries from $106.90 per day to $109.35 per day.

“Even the tax office has now admitted that it did not receive a single response from trucking industry associations in response to the paper,” said Geoff Crouch, ATA Chair. “The lack of responses should have been a red flag for the tax office that something had gone wrong with its consultation process. One of their highly paid staff, who all receive travel allowance without needing to lodge receipts, should have picked up the phone, sent a follow-up email or called a meeting. But nobody bothered.

NatRoad is also urging the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to reconsider its reduction in travel allowances for 2017–18.

“At a time where the Federal Government and industry are working together to reduce the compliance burden on road-freight businesses and their employees, this change negatively impacts small businesses and their employees,” said Warren Clark, NatRoad CEO. “It is important to get further clarity from the ATO on this difficult issue and have further consultation. NatRoad considers that the reduction will cause undue hardship to the industry. In meeting with the ATO, we hope to find a more practical solution for the industry.”


Call in the ACCC

Australia’s competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), should take over regulating toll road and landside port charges, according to Ben Maguire, ATA CEO.

“Toll road charges for trucks are growing rapidly,” said Maguire. “Small trucking businesses simply cannot afford them. Although these charges are set by state governments, the arrangements for setting them are not transparent and do not take into account costs across the supply chain.

“The ATA and its members have similar concerns about landside port charges. Earlier in 2017, DP World unilaterally increased the infrastructure surcharge at its Melbourne terminal and imposed a new surcharge of $21.16 per container at its Port Botany terminal. ATA member association Road Freight NSW pointed out that the Port Botany surcharge could cost carriers up to $150,000 per year.


Improving Harmony

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has met with industry representatives in Canberra to provide a briefing on the National Harmonisation Program (NHP), which aims to minimise the compliance burden by reducing duplication and inconsistencies across state and territory borders.

The first phase of the NHP is aiming to develop:

National HML Declaration

Class 2 B-double Notice

Class 2 Road Train Notice

Class 1 Agricultural Vehicle and Combination Notice

Currently, there is a range of different notices established across the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) states and territories that include inconsistent definitions and conditions for routes, days, hours and vehicles.


TCA Sponsors Award

Transport Certification Australia (TCA) is to sponsor the Application of Technology Award (Shaun Owen Memorial) at the 28th Australian Freight Industry Awards (AFIAs). The awards are being hosted by the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) on 2 September 2017, and recognise outstanding achievements and excellence in the Australian freight industry, across six award categories.

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