TWU slams QLD Government's subsidy proposal

TWU hits out at proposal to charge interstate operators to access Queensland's 8.35 cents per litre fuel subsidy

By Brad Gardner

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has blasted the Queensland Government’s decision to charge interstate trucking operators a fee to access the State’s fuel subsidy.

The TWU’s Queensland branch secretary, Hughie Williams, says the Government’s decision to limit access to the 8.35 cents per litre discount will unfairly burden interstate operators already struggling with higher fuel prices.

By April 2009 the Government wants to force interstate motorists to pay to gain access to Queensland’s fuel subsidy.

"In accordance with constitutional requirements, motorists with interstate licenses or registration would need to apply and pay an administration fee to access a subsidy card," Treasurer Andrew Fraser says.

But Williams wants the Government to grant an exemption to interstate operators so they can access the subsidy without having to pay an administration fee.

He argues it is necessary to reduce cost pressures on the industry and ensure consumer goods do not rise as a result of operators passing on increased costs.

"These people are doing it tough," he says.

"It is not a good industry to be in and that is why a lot of owner-drivers have got their backs to the wall."

Williams says he "will be seeking talks" with Fraser in an effort to convince him to alter his position.

Under the Government’s plan, fuel retailers will advertise at full price and then either scan a barcode on drivers’ licenses or swipe a subsidy card to ensure motorists receive the discount.

The Government is still determining whether to have a barcode sticker attached to licenses or to have motorists carry a separate card.

It is unclear how much the administration fee will be, but Fraser says he will be consulting industry groups before introducing the measure in April 2009.

According to Fraser, the new subsidy scheme will ensure motorists receive the correct subsidy.

The Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) is involved in the review process. ATN contacted QTA Chief Executive Peter Garske but he was unavailable for comment.

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