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Union wants Gillard to cut fuel excise

TWU pushes for cuts to the fuel excise in the federal budget and wants compensation for trucking under carbon tax

April 20, 2011

The Federal Government is under pressure to cut the fuel excise in the upcoming budget and ensure the trucking industry is shielded from prices rises under a carbon tax.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) National Secretary Tony Sheldon says government must intervene to offset record-high fuel prices that are forcing truck drivers to cut corners to make a living.

“A number of years ago, the Howard Government froze the fuel excise. With no way for drivers to achieve cost recovery on their rising fuel bill, it might be time for the fuel excise to be cut in the upcoming budget,” Sheldon says.

The fuel excise is due to rise by 2.4 percent on July 1, cutting the fuel rebate from 15.54 to 15.04 cents per litre. Governments are also being urged to increase registration fees by 2.4 percent from the beginning of the new financial year.

“We also need to see any fuel-based compensation scheme attached to a price on carbon to include not just diesel, but all forms of fuel. It is estimated that around 60 per cent of the total transport task is carried by couriers and other operators, who are as likely to use petrol or gas,” Sheldon says.

He says mandating paid waiting times will reduce industry emissions because drivers will not spend hours queuing to load or unload freight.

“When drivers are paid for their waiting time, it gives an economic impetus to get them in and unloaded. Drivers paid for waiting times only wait 14.9 hours a week on average, where the guys not paid wait 24.6 hours a week,” Sheldon says.

He says a joint climate change project between the TWU and the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation will also play a key role in reducing emissions.

“The Ecostation program will reduce emissions by from 5 to 10 per cent by training drivers in driving techniques which are more fuel efficient,” he says.

“Ecodriving can be effective through a number of simple and easily implemented techniques, including the use of gears, maintaining speed, minimizing idling time and correct loading to reduce drag.”

Toll Holdings has signed up to the scheme, with Sheldon saying the TWU is currently in discussions with other transport operators to do the same.

He says a core part of the program is monitoring fuel use and establishing a system that rewards drivers who reduce fuel costs.

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