Fuel tax 'to send us broke'

Trucking companies scramble to stay afloat as fuel tax looms over Queensland

Fuel tax 'to send us broke'
Fuel tax 'to send us broke'
By Brad Gardner

Queensland-based trucking operators will struggle to contain running costs once the State’s fuel subsidy is axed, with some questioning how they can pass charges on.

Less than a week out from the Budget, operators have slammed the Bligh Government for reneging on an election promise to maintain Queensland’s 8.35 cent per litre subsidy.

Tim Knowles from Speedie Contractors says the company’s running costs will rise by 2 to 3 percent, but there is little that can be done to alleviate the increase.

"Some contracts are long-term and you cannot adjust the base rate," Knowles says, adding that most of the company’s contracts will not be reviewed for another six months.

The demise of the subsidy will coincide with a jump in registration fees and the road user charge, leading another well-known Queensland operator to predict investment will dry up if Premier Anna Bligh follows through on her plan.

"If Captain Bligh has her way, she is going to drive companies away," the operator tells ATN.

"This government we have got is going to send us broke."

Once a fuel tax is introduced, fuel will rise beyond 8.35 cents a litre because of GST, prompting some commentators to claim Queensland will be the most expensive place in Australia for fuel.

Owner-driver Ken Marchant says the price rise will push many companies beyond breaking point because they are already struggling to maintain a steady income.

"At the moment there is very little work," he says.

Treasurer Andrew Fraser will deliver the Budget on June 16, with the Government also planning to sell assets such as Queensland Motorways and the Port of Brisbane.

Knowles is disappointed by the Government’s decision to introduce a fuel tax, after it went to the recent election telling voters the subsidy would continue.

"They had been promising to keep it and then they go and drop it," Knowles says.

The Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) claims companies with as few as six trucks may suffer a $15,000 jump in fuel costs if a tax is introduced.

Bligh has defended the move, saying it will save $300 million in interest savings over the next four years.

''We currently spend more than $500 million a year in our fuel subsidy program,'' she says.

''But Queensland taxpayers and the motoring public are not getting value for money.''

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