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SARTA makes fuel tax credit breakthrough

Steve Shearer has issued a massive update on the current fuel tax credit problem following talks with the government

South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) executive officer Steve Shearer has told ATN that he has made a breakthrough with the new federal government regarding the fuel tax credit (FTC) problem.

For months transport operators have been struggling after the old Coalition government halved the fuel excise while removing the FTC for truck drivers, meaning the transport industry essentially shouldered most of the load of the fuel excise drop.

SARTA conducted surveys in recent months to illuminate the crippling impact the continual lack of a FTC could have on operators (Shearer’s survey found that around 3,500 transport companies could fold if the FTC isn’t restored by the next Business Activity Statement (BAS) date of July 1).

Now Shearer says SARTA has managed to breakthrough with the new federal government and bring the FTC issue to light.

He says he had a discussion with new transport minister Catherine King’s chief of staff in Joseph Solomon alongside several chats with other senior departmental staff this week.

The discussions meant the FTC issue sits on the minister’s desk as a high priority issue despite others saying it wouldn’t get on King’s radar, while the minister’s office is now fully aware of the severity of the issue and the risk of industry collapse it poses.

“SARTA has not relented and has continued to press the new federal government to acknowledge and fix the FTC debacle created by the former government,” Shearer told ATN.

“The first step was to overcome the new government’s priorities barrier and get the issue on the federal minister’s desk as an issue that requires urgent and immediate resolution, which we have achieved.

“The second step is then to convince the government to restore the FTC. As a result of lengthy discussions we have achieved the second step, as the new federal minister have a full and detailed understanding of the issue and appreciate the risk posed if the FTC isn’t restored from July 1 at the latest.”

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Shearer says SARTA worked over the recent long weekend to eventually call with King’s chief of staff on Monday before emailing them a lengthy note about the current FTC problem.

A following series of telephone discussions between Shearer and senior staff from the transport minister’s department have corrected misunderstandings over how the FTC operates, cashflow impacts resulting from a lack of FTC and the refusal of customers to except anything less than a 22 cents per litre cut in price due to the excise halving.

Shearer says he also stressed how it’s unreasonable to expect truck operators to accept longer payment terms from the Australian Taxation Office to cover BAS debt that they shouldn’t have due to the FTC’s removal without warning.

“SARTA has ensured that thew new government understands the consequences of not restoring the FTC from July 1 at the latest, including the potential collapse of around 57 per cent of operators and hence the supply chain,” Shearer says.

“They also understand that failing to resolve the issue now would make it the current government’s problem. It’s not a simple issue and SARTA has discussed several options to resolve it.

“We await further discussions and are far more hopeful of a timely solution but there aren’t guarantees yet.”

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