Our fuel prices are beyond our control. The Greens hate us because they want everyone to eat home grown mung beans and live in shelters made of fern fronds. Cyclists hate us because they reckon that all of the money we pay in Road User Charges should be funneled into cycle ways so that they both have lots of room. Public transport advocates reckon all of the money should be spent on trains with a little bit on buses, and every motorist has a bad storey to tell about a truck in their lives somewhere.
But we are used to carrying the country, and we understand that some people who don’t like us. Not an easy task for sensitive and caring people, as we truckies are.
The reality of our lives gets a bit stretched though when we find government people who simply fail to listen, and then when they do listen they don’t understand. And when they listen and understand they can’t be bothered doing anything.
The Road User Charges (RUC) changes recently are a great case study of selective deafness.
Why would anybody want to increase Road User Charges by 84% on a sector of the economy which is responsible for our world trade?
In the recent review process, which us truckies contributed to, a number of things happened which we, as an industry didn’t like. In the democratic process however we were able to have our say, and no one can argue with that.
Some of the decisions were dumb. Like producing fixed vehicle combinations which limit flexibility for interchanging vehicles. Like charging one category of vehicle less when it does more road damage just because it is a bus (but that is the kind of muddled thinking that occurs when closet greens inhabit the Ministry). Like simplifying the number of vehicle classes by adding 28 more. Like having bureaucrats used to driving a desk in Wellington in charge of vehicle engineering and design. Like encouraging vehicles to carry more weight through misunderstanding the implications of the changes made to vehicle categories.
The bit that really bites us though is the 84% increase in Road User Charges for trucks carrying containers. This equates to a 15% increase in cartage rates.
Then to discover that this huge increase is because some incorrect data was supplied to the MOT is appalling. To find that the MOT has done nothing about correcting the error is almost scandalous.
They are prepared to charge importers and exporters up to $60 more per container just because they don’t know how to correct an error which they acknowledge has been made by someone giving them incorrect information.
We agree that we need to pay our share of road usage. We are happy to argue our case with the other parties who get up on the bandwagon to bash us around. But it is bloody hard to deal with people who know that they need to correct a cock up, but can’t be bothered doing it.
Without trucks, the economy stops.