Trucking industry to take part in fuel subsidy overhaul

By: Jason Whittaker

The Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) has been promised a seat at the table when the Bligh Government undertakes a review

The Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) has been promised a seat at the table when the Bligh Government undertakes a review into overhauling the State’s fuel subsidy scheme.

QTA Chief Executive Peter Garske says the Government has told him it will be looking to the organisation to actively participate in discussions surrounding the 8.3 cents a litre subsidy to ensure the trucking industry is not left worse off.

Garske says the QTA will, in coming weeks, receive information regarding the Government’s plans on how it will go about restructuring the excise and, following that, will decide on how best to argue the industry’s viewpoint.

One option the Government has canvassed includes having fuel retailers charge full price for fuel and then deduct the 8.3 cents by scanning a barcode on the driver’s licence when they pay.

It is uncertain how interstate operators will be affected by such a scheme, but the Transport Workers Union (TWU) fearing interstate operators will be exempted.

Queensland Branch Secretary Hughie Williams says offering to the subsidy exclusively to Queensland residents will result in a sharp increase in the cost of goods delivered from interstate.

"Thousands of tonnes of produce and goods is being brought in and out of Queensland, and those people spend many weeks of their time in Queensland filling up their trucks, and they're not going to get the discount," Williams told ABC Radio.

Garske declined to comment on whether the QTA will argue this point or push for a special licence for those based interstate but carrying out a large part of their business in Queensland.

He says he will not speculate on what will or will not be part of the QTA’s plans, instead saying he will wait until more is known about what direction the Government will take before commenting.

"I’m not prepared to speculate about outcomes because there is an enormous amount of detail to work through, and I think some people who have public comments to date have been a little foolish for doing so because they haven’t waited to find out what is going to occur," Garske says.

However, he says any changes to the subsidy must not adversely affect consumers, be they trucking operators or motorists.

"We support the fact that the full value of the subsidy should reach the consumer, whether they are a motorist or a truck driver," he says.

The Government’s move to alter its fuel subsidy scheme is based on Premier Anna Bligh’s argument oil companies are not delivering the full 8.3 cents a litre discount to motorists.

But the Government has failed to gain the support of the Opposition, which also argued the barcode system will push up the industry’s running costs, in turn leading to higher prices for everyday goods.

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