Canberra briefed on industry bushfire assistance plan

ATA outlines range of short- and long-term business solutions

Canberra briefed on industry bushfire assistance plan
NHVR image of hay and fodder delivery to Gelantipy, Victoria


A recovery plan for trucking businesses affected by the bushfire crisis has been proposed to the Australian Government.

Developed by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) General Council and put forward to federal transport minister Michael McCormack via a teleconference, the plan comprises disaster recovery allowance, concessional loans, and extension of the instant asset write-off.

The recommendations include:

  • the Disaster Recovery Allowance be made available as a wage subsidy to employers who can demonstrate loss or hardship as a result of the bushfires and that the allowance or any wage subsidy be extended from 13 to 26 weeks
  • the Western Australian Shires of Dundas and Coolgardie should be disaster declared, so owner drivers held up by the closure of the Eyre and Coolgardie-Esperance highways can access the assistance
  • small business owners who get concessional loans under the government’s assistance package be able to select monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly repayment terms once their initial repayment and interest holiday comes to an end, maximising the flexibility of loan repayments for these businesses  
  • the extension of the instant asset write-off to enable businesses to secure cashflow advantages
  • the postponement of planned increases to truck taxes, which would see businesses pay an extra $132.8 million in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20.
  • for the longer term, extending the Farm Management Deposits (FMD) Scheme to eligible trucking businesses.

On the asset write-off, ATA chair Geoff Crouch comments: "We believe the Government should increase the asset write off to $50,000 for one year only, with the higher write off to come to an end on 1 July 2021. At present, the write off is scheduled to fall from $30,000 to $1000 on 1 July 2020."

He adds that with industry already struggling as a result of the bushfires, the introduction of the road user charge increase in 2020 would only add to their burden.

"Given the cashflow implications of increasing the road user and registration charges, any increases in the road user and registration charges should occur from 1 July 2021 rather than 1 July 2020."

More on federal government's assistance package for small business, here

Crouch adds: "To help the trucking industry weather future natural disasters, the FMD scheme should be extended to include trucking businesses that receive more than 50 per cent of their income from sectors that currently have access to FMDs."

Crouch notes more than 20 industry representatives participated in the development of the proposal, highlighting the industry’s level of concern about the bushfires.

"The impact these fires have had on trucking businesses and their employees is unprecedented. Some have lost their homes, workplaces or equipment," he says.

"Others have been dealing with prolonged time away from their families, suffering financial loss and personal hardship as a result of road closures and lengthy delays.

"We appreciate the collaborative consultation process the government is undertaking, and value the opportunity to put the trucking industry’s needs on the bushfire recovery agenda."

The ATA indicates to ATN there's no timeline on a government response to the proposals.

It says it will put forward additional long-term measures later in the year, and will raise the need for payroll tax concessions directly with state governments.


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