FARMERS will face another increased cost after the State government has upped the heavy vehicle registration charge by 2.5 per cent from July 2020.
Livestock and Rural Transporters' Association (LRTA) national president Stephen Marley said WA was the only State increasing its fee after all other States froze their fees and charges until June 30, 2021, in line with a Transport and Infrastructure Council decision as part of COVID-19 stimulus packages.
Mr Marley said the Department of Transport had kept the rise "hidden from us" until the WA Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (LRTAWA) started asking questions.
The department responded, saying there would be increases in heavy vehicle licence fees for 2020-21, which was provided by the licensing team.
"As per the schedule, heavy vehicle licence fees will increase by 2.5pc from July 2020," said manager strategic transport reforms - freight, ports, aviation and reform Graeme O'Neil.
That's despite on its website that it states "COVID-19: Fee increases freeze for motor vehicle charges".
"The economic stimulus package freezes fee increases but you will still need to pay your vehicle licence (rego) for both this year and next year," the Department of Transport website said.
"The freeze means there will be no increases to your motor vehicle licence fees which were set to rise 1 July this year with inflation."
Mr Marley said it didn't mention heavy vehicles.
LRTA WA president David Fyfe said he was "disappointed with the decision which the association only discovered after making enquiries about what the government intended".
"There has not been any consultation with industry, and we are unaware of the rationale behind WA transporters being singled out for additional costs compared to their counterparts in other States," Mr Fyfe said.
"Whilst the rural transport industry has been fortunate in being able to keep working during the COVID-19 restrictions, there is considerable concern about the challenging headwinds transporters are facing.
"Many grain transporters currently have a portion of their fleet parked up and the declining sheep flock will have a significant impact on our members.
"Coupled with the pause in sheep live exports, rural transporters are facing a difficult few months until harvest begins."
Mr Fyfe said with the increase coming "with little to no warning", businesses were not given time to factor the costs into contracts and budgets for the coming year.
"This will force rural transporters to make decisions about the size of their fleet, which in turn will impact other businesses in rural communities, such as tyre fitters, mechanics, parts suppliers, fuel suppliers and other local businesses," he said.
"The heavy vehicle industry is already over-taxed and now is not the time to increase the burden on small businesses as we all work together during this recovery period.
"I'm asking the government to rethink the increase in light of the current economic circumstances."
The impact of the fee increase will be felt across the board as heavy vehicles are used throughout supply chains.
In WA to licence a prime mover in 2019/2020 with two axles, towing one semi-trailer, costs $1308.
For a prime mover with three axles, towing one semi trailer, it costs $5143.
A prime mover with two or three axles, towing a semi trailer, costs $9231.
A heavy rigid truck can cost between $496 to $1122, depending on the number of axles (from two to five) and weight category.
A rigid truck towing one trailer with two to six axles in the combination will cost from $852 to $2084.