The heavy vehicle industry is cracking down on what it calls “unfair competition” by making it harder for people to get away with misusing primary producer vehicle registration concessions.

Key points:

  • An app allows anyone to check whether a truck is incorrectly registered 
  • Large transport operators are alleged to have used farmer discount rego
  • Calls are being made for different coloured primary producer number plates

Farmers can access cheaper registration for their trucks under the primary producer concession.

But to be eligible their trucks are not to be used on a commercial basis, for example, hired out to a neighbour or used to cart grain for another farmer for a fee. 

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) spokesperson Andrew Berkman said in some areas up to 10 per cent of vehicles registered under the primary producer scheme were operating on a commercial basis.

He said this had led to an unfair advantage with heavy vehicle registration discounts of up to 55 per cent available for farmers.  

Rego checker app

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator app now shows whether a vehicle is registered under a primary producer concession. (Supplied: National Heavy Vehicle Regulator )

But the NHVR’s national registration checker app now allows anyone to confirm a registration category by taking a quick photo of a licence plate. 

“The app provides all that information, makes all that data publicly available so that those in the supply chain and also authorities, can identify those vehicles straightaway,” Mr Berkman said. 

NSW Famers has thrown its full support behind the primary producer registration being made available on the national app. 

NSW Farmers Business, Economics and Trade Committee chair Bill McDonnell said they were concerned that the primary producer discount could be taken away if it was not regulated. 

“Any tools that are used such as the app can be a great benefit for retaining a primary producer concession,” Mr McDonnell said. 

“The concession is important because the income for primary producers can be quite variable. Some seasons it’s good and other seasons are in drought. So, the concession becomes a great benefit.”

Loophole for transport operators shut down

Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association National president Scott McDonald said the industry was also cracking down on larger transport providers operating under the primary producer registration. 

“There was a lot of big fleets that were doing it under a loophole which I think now has been closed, and those bigger fleets have come back into line,” Mr McDonald said.

Transport operators had been able to do a token amount of primary producer work to be eligible to apply for the discounted registration.

But in June a bill was passed in the NSW Parliament which required concession applicants to prove that more than 50 per cent of income was derived from primary production activities in a normal season. 

A grain truck on a South Australian farm.

There are calls for primary producer licence plates to be reintroduced to make identification even easier. (ABC Rural: Carmen Brown)

The bill also increased fines from $2,200 to a maximum of $11,000 for corporations attempting to register a vehicle by making a false statement. 

However, Mr McDonald said there was still more to do.

Call to reintroduce primary producer licence plates

Previously, in some states, vehicles registered with primary producer concessions had different coloured number plates and Mr McDonald would like to see this reinstated. 

“You can’t get away with it then, you know exactly what people are doing and what they’re registered under.”

Meanwhile, Mr McDonald said they expected a significant shortage of truck drivers this harvest. 

“There already is a massive shortage even before harvest starts.”

Fines of up to $11,000 for misusing primary producer rego
Source:
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