Trucking industry is on our side when it comes to fuel: Albanese

By: Jason Whittaker


The trucking industry is shaping up as a key plank in the Rudd Government’s push to discredit the Opposition’s call

The trucking industry is shaping up as a key plank in the Rudd Government’s push to discredit the Opposition’s call for a five cent cut in the fuel excise.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese has leapt on comments made by Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chairman Trevor Martyn, which reject assertions the Government can do anything meaningful to halt rising fuel prices.

During the 2008 Australian Trucking Convention, Martyn told attendees the Government needs to focus on abolishing inefficient transport laws that restrict operators from using the latest and most fuel-efficient truck designs rather than tinkering with fuel prices.

"The price of diesel has already gone up by 48 cents and is likely to rise an extra 20 cents," Martyn says.

"A tax cut of even 10 cents a litre would hardly be noticeable."

According to Albanese, this shows "the Opposition are [sic] totally out of touch" when it comes to developing sound policies to address rising fuel prices. The ATA says it will not support the Coalition’s five cents off proposal because it will lower the amount of road user charge the industry pays which in turn will affect road infrastructure funding.

This, as far as Albanese is concerned, means the industry is firmly in the Government’s corner.

"This [Martyn’s comments] is consistent with what the ATA has said in critiquing the now opposition and giving support to the now government on our transport policies," Albanese says.

The Minister has also used comments made by ATA Chief Executive Stuart St Clair regarding the Government’s decision to implement a $70 million safety and productivity plan to show the Opposition is bereft of support when it comes to transport.

"Minister Albanese has listened to the industry and delivered a strong result for trucking operators and Australian families," St Clair wrote in a statement following the announcement of the plan.

However, the Opposition has attempted to gain the support of the trucking industry by using its Senate majority to block bills that will enact an increase in the diesel excise as well as higher registrations charges for federally registered vehicles as well as vehicles registered in the ACT.

The Opposition is also continuing to barrage the Government over its decision to implement FuelWatch in December, with Coalition leader Brendan Nelson and his colleagues questioning whether the scheme will have any benefit.

But Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs Chris Bowen says trucking operators may save up to 30 cents a litre on diesel under FuelWatch, which will require fuel operators to set their price 24 hours in advance to allow motorists to find out where the cheapest price is.

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