Tony Friedlander of the trucking lobby and architect of the famous ‘truck strike’ (remember that? man that was weird when you think about it) was on the TV last week arguing that we should get rid of road user charges and replace them with a diesel tax the same as petrol tax. In typical Friedlander fashion there’s a rort buried at the heart of what he wants but it takes someone who understands the issues to see it. Which is where K’s post comes in:
Rather than arguing that the official estimate of RUC fraud costing NZTA up to $20 million Freidlander actually stated that this was an underestimate. He then stated that the amount was at least three times greater. That’s a bizarre response from an industry lobbyist. It should start alarm bells ringing. In effect he was arguing that truckies are more dishonest than the government thinks.
However, he then proposed a solution that would prevent dishonest truckies for avoiding paying their fair share and being able to undercut the prices charged by honest truckies.
That solution is to replace RUCs with a diesel tax.
That might sound sensible to anyone who has no knowledge of how RUCs are set. To anybody who understands how are RUCs are set it is a very clever use of public prejudice to achieve the exact opposite of what the public really wants – fewer trucks on our roads and all truckies paying their way.
The starting point for setting RUCs is to make 2 tonne vehicles pay the same whether they use petrol or diesel. Then a road damage charge is added for heavy vehicles which increases with the 3rd power of axle weight. When the petrol tax was hypothecated last year it broke the parity with diesel because RUCs hadn’t included the Crown excise duty.
This means that if a diesel excise duty replaces RUCs it should be at 45c/l not at the old 25c/l.
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