Industry bodies mystified by ATO consultation statement

By: Rob McKay

SARTA, WARTA, QTA and TWU adamant no contact to take place on ATO travel claims issue - update

Industry bodies mystified by ATO consultation statement
Cam Dumesny says no ATO request has been found


The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) claim that the transport industry was consulted over proposed changes to driver travel expenses has met with a flat rejection in responses from certain organisations it named.

The statements are a reconfirmation of the Australian Road Transport Industry Organisation’s (ARTIO’s) original stance that there had been no discussion or consultation on the change.


South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) executive officer Steve Shearer is adamant that no contact was made with it.

"The ATO has advised that it consulted widely, including by email to SARTA," Shearer says.

"I have not seen any such email and we checked back through our system of email archives, all the way back to June 2016 and there was no email from the ATO to SARTA on this issue.

"I would not like to think your readers think SARTA was consulted when we weren’t.

"The obvious question for the ATO on this supposed consultation is, juts how many responses did they receive from the 60 industry bodies they claim to have consulted?

"My bet is a big fat zero, because nobody got an email from the ATO that we know of."


Western Australian Road Transport Association (WARTA) already tweeted on the issue.

"Definitely confirm that WARTA has not been contacted by the ATO on this issue," WARTA executive officer Cam Dumesny tells ATN.

"Through ARTIO nationally, we are trying to meet with the ATO to discuss."


Queensland Transport Association (QTA) CEO Gary Mahon has informed his members of its situation following ATN coverage.

"We would like to clarify with members that we have no record of the ATO ever having emailed the QTA as part of its consultation and we maintain that the decision taken by the office to reduce the expense was a complete surprise," Mahon says.

"We also note recent media statements by the South Australian Road Transport Association, Natroad and ARTIO also deny having being consulted about the decision.

"As previously reported, the QTA’s industrial body ARTIO has written to the ATO about the industries concerns with the new tax determination reducing overnight expenses.

"ARTIO has since been contacted by a representative of the ATO however we await their formal response and the parties are making arrangements to meet. We will keep members advised accordingly."


Though not mentioned in a list of organisations the ATO said it contacted, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) confirms no alert came its way and takes the department to task for a lack of insight into the industry.

"The TWU was not contacted by the ATO about tax changes for truck drivers," a TWU spokesperson tells ATN.

"We were not asked for our opinion on this issue nor was advice sought on the impact any changes would have on drivers.

"It is clear that there is a lack of understanding of the work schedules and routines of truck drivers.

"Truck drivers do not work what would be considered normal hours and this was reinforced by a Macquarie University study published this February which showed 10 per cent of drivers work over 80 hours a week while 80 per cent work over 50 hours a week.

"Drivers as a result have very different lives to the vast majority of workers: they spend long periods of time, including nights, away from their homes and families.

"Their start and finish times can also vary widely.

"The TWU is concerned that the ATO has failed to take into account the realities of the job of truck drivers when making assessments on tax claims being made by drivers.

"The ATO clearly did not take into account the impact it would have on drivers and the wider industry which is already under pressure."

ATN has been told more information from the ATO is due tomorrow.

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