Flood-stricken operators should seek help: ATA

ATA urges flood and cyclone-affected trucking operators to seek help after government extends deadline for financial assistance

March 18, 2011

Trucking operators stricken by Queensland’s devastating floods and Cyclone Yasi can still apply for government assistance under the Federal Government’s recovery subsidy scheme.

Operators and employees have until March 31 to apply for help after the Government extended the deadline for subsidies. Those who have not lost all of their income are also able to apply.

Australian Trucking Association (ATA) CEO Stuart St Clair says small business owners and employees can get an allowance of about $500 per fortnight for up to 13 weeks if they have lost income as a result of natural disasters.

"Many trucking operators and employees have not applied for help because they are struggling on by working reduced hours or finding small amounts of work," St Clair says.

He says people are eligible if they can show their average fortnightly earnings in the eight weeks immediately following their loss of income is lower than in the eight weeks immediately before the start of the disaster.

"In other words, trucking industry employees working reduced hours or driving fewer kilometres are potentially eligible as are the owners of small trucking businesses who have lost some, but not all, of their work," St Clair says.

St Clair is urging trucking operators and employees to apply to Centrelink rather than trying to decide on their own if they are eligible for help.

He says people, particularly in the trucking and farming sectors, assume they are not entitled to assistance and miss out.

"It’s a particular problem in rural Australia and industries like farming and trucking because we’re an independent bunch," St Clair says.

More than 800 trucking operators and thousands of industry employees have been severely affected by the floods and cyclone, with operators transporting fruit and vegetables particularly affected.

The ATA says it worked with the Queensland Trucking Association to secure extra disaster assistance for trucking operators.

As part of its efforts, the ATA led a delegation of operators to lobby federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, Minister for Human Services Tanya Plibersek and the Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean.

"They listened to the evidence we presented on behalf of our members, considered it and took action," St Clair says.

Disaster assistance fact sheets can be downloaded from the ATA’s website. Click here to access them.

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