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Union describes fuel excise cut as a failure

The TWU wants more financial assistance to truck drivers from the Federal government

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) says the Federal government’s recent fuel excise tax cut has failed to deliver any relief to truck drivers and companies.

According to the TWU, the fuel excise halving from 44 cents per litre to 22.1 cents is meaning drivers only save less than $20 on each 400-litre tank, with the union calling for the Federal government to scrap road user charges for heavy vehicle operators during the oil price hike.

Under typical arrangements, heavy vehicle users receive a fuel tax credit (FTC) to recoup the cost of the fuel excise.

While heavy vehicles on private roads including mines and farms get the excise waved entirely, the TWU says heavy vehicles on public roads get their FTC at a reduced rate and are still required to pay a road user charge, which sits typically at 26 cents per litre or roughly $104 per 400 litre tank.

In the recent Federal budget, the government halved the fuel excise to accommodate for rising fuel prices but left the existing road user charge arrangements, meaning heavy vehicle users are still required to pay it while paying 22 cents per litre.

Given the average full tank costs between $900 and $1000, the union says a saving of less than $20 is largely meaningless.

“Owner drivers and transport operators are already working on razor-thin margins – they need meaningful relief from surging oil prices,” TWU assistant national secretary Nick McIntosh says.

“A saving of four cents a litre when you’re filling up a 400-litre tank equates to less than $20 off on a $1000 fuel bill – it’s nothing.”

RELATED ARTICLE: ALRTA seeks lower road user charge increase

The TWU says crippling fuel costs means current transport workers are balancing doing more with less money to make ends meet, including driving longer hours on less sleep or transporting bigger loads over longer distances with fewer breaks that compromises safety.

The union also slams the recently announced Road and Rail Supply Chain Review and says it puts the transport workforce “out of scope”, with the TWU instead wanting the Federal government to set up supply chain principles to prevent against future disruptions.

Looking forward, the TWU is urging the Federal government to quickly address the issues facing the transport industry and provide further financial assistance to transport businesses and owner drivers to recover rising fuel costs.

“The squeeze on transport contracts from the top of supply chains pressures operators and drivers to delay maintenance, speed, overload trucks and drive fatigued,” McIntosh says.

“The pandemic, flooding and now rising fuel costs have exacerbated the pressures on truck drivers.”

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