Farmers have won a five-year heavy vehicle registration compensation deal after the NSW Government was forced to act over a long-time legislative error in which farmers paid $32 million more than they should have.
It could amount to more than $2000 in compensation per heavy vehicle registered by farmers over the five years.
The government though says it is not legally allowed to compensate farmers from further than three years back.
To increase the compensation it is offering a registration free period of two years for eligible farmers, and reimbursing farmers who may have already paid this this year.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Roads Minister Melinda Pavey announced the compensation package on Wednesday.
About 7000 farmers are expected to benefit from the package.
Originally, Minister Pavey had said any compensation package could take months after the Shooters Party revealed documents exposing the over-payments and accused the government of sitting on compensation.
Mrs Pavey accused the Shooters of playing politics in the drought.
The Shooters were using the issue to campaign for this weekend’s Wagga Wagga by-election. But the government appears to have torpedoed this campaign with today’s package.
The government has somehow fast-tracked a compensation deal. Farmers in regional NSW will get more cash back in their pockets with rebates and refunds on heavy vehicle registration.
Mr Barilaro made the announcement and said the changes will come into effect from November 1, 2018.
“We don’t want to see anyone pay more than they should for essential costs such as vehicle registration, especially farmers in regional NSW who are doing it tough right now,” Mr Barilaro said.
“In a boost for farmers, the NSW Government will provide partial refunds on previous heavy vehicles registration charges going back over three years, saving primary producers an average of $2,094.
“Farmers will also receive free registration over the next two years for their heavy vehicles.
“Governments don’t always have the answers but when we see a good solution we have a responsibility to act, and that is exactly what we have done here,” he said.
Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said these changes come at a crucial time for farmers in regional NSW, and compliment the NSW Government’s more than $1 billion in drought support, which includes waiving class one agricultural vehicle registration costs.
“In recognition of what they do and what they go through, we have always given our farmers a 55 per cent reduction in their registration expenses, saving them an average of $1259 per heavy vehicle,” Mrs Pavey said.
“It had come to my attention that these farmers were eligible for an even greater discount. The response was simple, let’s give the money back.
“Further to the refund announced, and as a result of the drought conditions, primary producers will also receive a registration rebate on their heavy vehicles for the next two years.
“I recognise that for farmers struggling right now the refunds will be important to give them some cash flow. Many are feeding stock and water is becoming more expensive, with freight costs quickly piling up.”
The registration rebate will apply to all renewals from July 1, 2018 until June 30, 2020.
For producers who register their vehicles between July 1 and November 1, this year, the amount will be refunded.
Farmers will still have to pay for Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance, personalised plates and relevant vehicle checks, for the safety of all road users.
Affected customers will be contacted by Roads and Maritime Services from 1 November with the refund amounts.