‘No RUC increase!‘ say petition signatories

4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 11, 2020

A National Road Carriers Association petition to postpone the government‘s planned 5.3% increase in road user charges (RUC), due to take effect from 1 July, has gained more than 8000 signatures in its first 24 hours.

The petition requests that the House of Representatives urge the government to postpone the 2020 Road User Charge (RUC) increase due to financial hardship experienced by the heavy transport sector during the Covid-19 lockdown, despite being an essential service keeping the supply chain functioning.

“From a public perspective this increase will affect everyone because the cost of moving freight must ultimately be built into the price of goods,” says National Road Carriers Association CEO David Aitken.

“The petition is obviously gaining huge momentum in the road transport industry. Facebook is going off with 525 comments, 600 likes and 2300 shares since the petition was published on Tuesday 9 June.”

The petition states: “We believe businesses in New Zealand that have survived want to get back to full operation, recover their losses, and keep staff employed, and that a 5.3% RUC increase at this time will mean costs being absorbed or passed on to the consumer, which will result in price increases, something New Zealanders cannot afford in the current climate. The country is trying to get back on its feet, and increasing a tax on the industry that keeps it moving is unfair and feels like a punishment to an essential service.”

Aitken said the industry is willing to continue paying RUC as it is now, but this needs to go into the currently badly maintained roading networks and build new infrastructure that allows the efficient flow of freight. “This government appears to want to punish the trucking industry when freight companies are struggling by increasing the RUC to pay for rail, cycleways and public transport – which are not capable of delivering essential supplies to stores. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how essential road freight is, as did the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes.”

Aitken said Road Transport Forum CEO Nick Leggett has pointed out that the National Land Transport Fund was below budget, roading repairs have not kept pace with the growth of revenue generated from heavy vehicles, and an economic downturn will affect load sizes rather than distance travelled.

The RTF is lobbying the government to postpone the planned RUC increase due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic and the downturn most transport operators will experience due to this. 

Aitken said transport operators were seriously aggrieved by the planned RUC increase and said social media activity among the road freight community had been bubbling for weeks. “It is our responsibility to make sure the government hears the industry‘s concerns.”

The petition can be found on the New Zealand Parliament website: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/petitions/document/PET_98059/petition-of-david-aitken-for-national-road-carriers-assn