NSW mini-budget neglects trucking industry

By: Jason Whittaker


New South Wales trucking operators may be forced to increase freight rates or reduce their profit margins following the State

New South Wales trucking operators may be forced to increase freight rates or reduce their profit margins following the State Government’s decision to scrap the fuel subsidy.

Treasurer Eric Roozendaal will end the northern NSW fuel subsidy from July 1 next year as part of an effort to drag NSW out of an almost $1 billion deficit.

But his decision, announced in the NSW Budget, is bad news for the State’s northern trucking operators, the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) NSW branch warns.

ATA NSW manager Jill Lewis claims many of the State’s operators will need to alter their costs structure because they will be forced to compete unfairly against cross-border competitors who have access to subsidised fuel.

The NSW Government currently pays a fuel subsidy in northern NSW to ensure that fuel sellers can compete with the subsidised price of fuel in Queensland.

Roozendaal’s decision means subsidies such as the 8.35 cents per litre in Tenterfield and the 1.67 cents at Urunga will be abolished.

"The decision will place our members in a diabolical position," Lewis says.

She says the problem is exacerbated by the Queensland Government’s decision to limit the State’s fuel subsidy to Queensland motorists from Easter next year.

Lewis says the NSW Government has not considered the consequences of its decision.

"The Government should reverse its decision and instead consult with the industry," she says.

Roozendaal has also been criticised for deferring contributions to the Banora Point and Tintenbar to Ewingsdale upgrades of the Pacific Highway.

Lewis says the route at Banora Point is plagued by congestion and accidents and trucks are forced to travel slowly up and down Sexton Hill.

"These projects are important both for the trucking industry and for motorists. The Government’s decision to defer them will result in more accidents and congestion," Lewis says.

She says more than 50 percent of the Pacific Highway between Tintenbar and Ewingsdale does not comply with minimum standards.

"The accident rate on this section of the highway is more than double the target set by the Roads and Traffic Authority for the Pacific Highway," Lewis says.

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