The ACCC should not approve the sale of WestConnex to Sydney Transport Partners (STP), because in the long run it would push up truck tolls even further, the chairman of the Australian Trucking Association Geoff Crouch said.
“Transurban is the majority interest holder in STP. It already holds, or has majority control of, 15 of the 19 toll road concessions in Australia,” Mr Crouch said.
In a submission to the ACCC, the ATA said the proposed acquisition would reduce competition for the construction, ownership and operation of toll roads in NSW. The ATA said it would give Transurban an increased ability to secure new toll road concessions based on increasing the heavy vehicle multiplier on its existing toll road assets.
In Sydney, the NSW Government’s tolling principles require truck tolls to be at least three times higher than car tolls, and Transurban has demonstrated a willingness to use interstate truck toll multipliers as part of its case for increasing local multipliers.
“The 16,000 hardworking trucking businesses in New South Wales cannot afford the truck tolls they are charged now. The proposed sale would inevitably result in tolls becoming even higher,” Mr Crouch said.
“Motorists have the ability to hop on the train or catch the bus if they wish to avoid toll roads, but a freight transporter can’t strap their load to the back of a bicycle and hope for the best,” he said.
Mr Crouch dismissed the argument that high truck tolls simply reflected the increased road maintenance cost caused by heavy vehicle use.
“For a fully laden, six-axle articulated truck, the estimated marginal cost of road wear on an urban toll road is 16 cents per kilometre. On the M7, for example, the truck toll of $1.19 per kilometre is more than seven times the actual cost,” he said.