We'll continue fight to get trucks off road: Opposition

NSW Opposition to fight for restoration of rail fuel subsidy to reduce number of trucks on the road

We'll continue fight to get trucks off road: Opposition
We'll continue fight to get trucks off road, Opposition says
By Brad Gardner | January 11, 2010

The New South Wales Government has refused to reinstate a rail fuel subsidy despite Opposition claims it will improve road safety by taking trucks off the road.

A spokesman for Transport Minister David Campbell says there are no plans to restore the 1.2 cent per litre Fuel by Rail Scheme for petrol companies axed in November 2008.

The Opposition called for the scheme to be reintroduced after fatal incidents involving petrol tankers in NSW during the Christmas holiday period.

Coalition leader Barry O’Farrell says the subsidy will cut the need for truck movements, and a spokesman for O’Farrell says the Opposition will keep fighting to have the subsidy re-introduced.

"It’s not an issue that is going to go away," the spokesman says.

Australasian Railway Association CEO Bryan Nye has backed the Opposition’s move, while the Rail, Tram and Bus Union wants petrol, diesel and gas shifted to rail.

"I think it should be restored," Nye says.

"Around the world everyone is putting dangerous goods on rail."

Furthermore, Nye says the demise of the subsidy played a role in Shell’s decision to close rail operations in Dubbo, Canberra and Tamworth.

However Cambpell’s spokesman says Shell informed the Government the decision to turn to road transport was made regardless of whether the subsidy was in place.

Jill Lewis from the NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has rejected the union’s proposal.

She says it neglects to take into account the need to move fuel from the rail line to petrol stations.

"Petrol stations are located on roads, not on rail lines, so delivery by truck is the only way to get fuel to the outlets," Lewis says.

"The proposal also doesn’t address the problem that NSW simply does not have the rail infrastructure needed to undertake such a massive shift in how goods are distributed."

The 1.2 cent subsidy was introduced to encourage companies to transport petrol over the Blue Mountains from Sydney to destinations west of Lithgow.

A petrol tanker collided with a car late last year near Batemans Bay on the Princes Highway, killing the truck driver, two girls and their father.

Another two incidents occurred earlier this month, the first on the Newell Highway at Narrandera and the second on the New England Highway near Muswellbrook.

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