Transport Minister Pam Beggs today emphasised Western Australia would not be bulldozed into big hikes in truck registration charges because of the views of other States and the Commonwealth.
"Merely lifting registration charges without tackling the more fundamental issues of taxation and road funding is not our idea of micro-economic reform," she said.
"In fact, the whole reform process is in danger of missing an ideal opportunity to bring real improvements in transport efficiency."
Mrs Beggs was commenting on the ballot in which all States and Territories except Western Australia and New South Wales supported the higher heavy vehicle registration fees proposed by the National Road Transport Commission.
The proposed fees would see the costs of registering a six-axle semi-trailer rise from $2,500 to $4,000 a year by July 1995. The proposed rate for B-double configurations would rise from $3,000 to $5,250.
"Western Australia is committed to genuine and lasting reform in the road transport sector," Mrs Beggs said.
"But the Government will not agree to a charging schedule until it is convinced that proposed charges produce real benefits.
"The only benefit of the proposed scale is the elimination of a problem on the east coast whereby operators register their vehicles in States with low charges.
"It is not as though the real issues cannot be resolved before new charges are determined as the proposed level will not take effect for three years.
"For example, the Senate committee inquiring into taxation on-road transport has plenty of time in which to make positive recommendations that can be taken into account when setting proposed charges."
Mrs Beggs said the State Government had substantially deregulated the transport sector in its WA Advantage strategy.
"This will result in savings of almost $2,500 a year in the cost of operating a six-axle semi-trailer to the North-West," she said.
"The State Government clearly cannot stand by and see these gains engulfed by a charging schedule which is based on only a partial view of the road transport industry."
Mrs Beggs said it was expected the Government would have to introduce complementary legislation in the autumn session of Parliament so that other aspects of the Commission's recommendations could be implemented.
These included vehicle design, driver records and hours, aspects of the road traffic code and driver licensing standards.
"There are many positive aspects in the work the Commission has undertaken that will result in major benefits for truck owners and operators," she said.
"We support these measures but the whole reform process has the potential to be so much more dynamic if the Commission was allowed to tackle the broader issues of taxation and road funding in its proposed charges."