Little's successor close, as Toll criticises carbon tax

Paul Little’s successor to be known next month, as the company eyes expansion in US and criticises carbon tax

By Brad Gardner | July 19, 2011

A successor to departing Toll Managing Director Paul Little could be known within a month, as the company eyes further expansion in the US and criticises the carbon tax.

Speaking to ABC’s Lateline Business yesterday, Little told the program Toll currently has $380 million to splurge on further acquisitions in the US market.

With Little scheduled to leave his post in January next year, he says Toll has conducted a "rigorous" search for a replacement.

"We really have conducted a global search and it's been very conclusive and I believe that we'll be in a position now to advise our shareholders within four to six weeks on the outcome of that search," he says.

As Prime Minister Julia Gillard travels the country to drum up support for the carbon tax, Little claims the decision to exempt road freight transport for two years will have a negative effect on rail and sea operations.

"Inadvertently, it's going to disadvantage that form of transport and that mode of transport that can offer the greatest savings in terms of greenhouse gas emissions," he says.

"We would certainly like to have seen the government also create a two-year window where both rail and sea were also going to receive the benefit of not incurring the tax."

As Gillard announced on July 10, a $23 carbon tax will not include the trucking industry when it is introduced next financial year.

The industry is expected to pay almost an extra 7 cents per litre for diesel once a $25.40 tax is applied to it on July 1, 2014.

Little says Toll is concerned with the timing of the scheme and what it will mean for its international operations, citing China in particular which is not imposing a similar tax.

"Well, the concern that we have with the timing of any tax is that we're very much now operating in a global environment where trade with many of our customers is very much seen as an international movement, not a local national movement," he says.

"And our greatest concern is that Australia becomes less competitive with the need to absorb a carbon tax."

Little will leave as managing director after more than two decades in the role, where he has transformed Toll from a domestic road freight transporter into Asia's dominant international logistics operation.

He will return as a non-executive director at an unspecified time and says he plans to devote more time to community programs helping disadvantaged people gain employment.

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