Government documents revealed the NSW government has overcharged farmers by more than $30 million for vehicle registrations over two decades, according to member for Orange Philip Donato.
Mr Donato said a concession for heavy vehicles in primary production, introduced in 1998, had not been applied by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to more than 184,000 vehicles.
According to Mr Donato, “the documents speak for themselves”.
“They clearly show 95 per cent of people affected live outside the Sydney-metropolitan area,” he said.
“This is really a kick in the guts for farmers who are doing it extremely tough in one of the worst droughts we’ve seen in recent living memory.
“They have been fleeced of this money and the government should pay it back.”
The changes ... had an unintended consequence on heavy vehicles. We are now doing our homework into what we can do to fix it.Spokesperson for the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey
A spokesperson for the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said the problem had been “the result of poorly-worded legislation in 1995”.
“The changes were only meant to impact light vehicles, but they had an unintended consequence on heavy vehicles,” the spokesperson said.
“We are now doing our homework into what we can do to fix it.
Mr Donato said the government had “sat on their hands and done nothing” despite knowing of the discrepancy since February.
“It wasn’t disclosed to the public, the farmers weren’t told they’d been overcharged and now they should get what’s rightfully theirs,” he said.
Farmer Wayne Dunford said he had two prime movers and four trailers that would have been impacted.
“There would be a lot of other farmers who would have similar numbers, so it would add up to a reasonable amount of money,” he said.
“It would be pretty good for the government to sort it out quickly and put that money back into the rural community where they can actually use it.”
Mr Donato called on farmers to demand a refund.
“I encourage all affected farmers to contact their local Roads and Maritime Services office to inquire about getting their refund,” he said.
“When there’s a budget surplus of over $3 billion, farmers don’t deserve more delays.”
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