Robbing Peter to pay Paul

KAP says emergency fuel measures unfairly target farmers and the transport industry.

Katter Australia Party (KAP) leader Bob Katter has hit out at the government’s strategy for emergency fuel measures. He has written to Treasurer Josh Frydenburg on behalf of the transport industry in his electorate, describing the simultaneous reduction in fuel excise and the cutting of fuel tax credit is having a catastrophic impact on our transport and freight operators, as well as gouging farmers and primary producers.

By removing the fuel tax credit for on-road users and the continuing increase in the price of petrol from the oil companies, Mr Katter said the transport operators were facing massive cash flow and operational issues.
“There is a serious issue unfolding across Australia, which is a direct consequence of the 22.1c fuel excise reduction implemented by the Government,” Mr Katter said.

“While at face value, the cutting of fuel costs by 21c at the bowser may seem to be a good thing for the Australian people, it is having a catastrophic impact on our transport and freight operators, as well as gouging our farmers and primary producers.

“22.1c reduction in the fuel excise is not having the positive impact that the government anticipated. Our transport operators are calling for the fuel tax credit of 17.8c for on-road and 44c for off-road, be restored.”

Mr Katter said that due to the removal of the credit, many transport businesses would experience a huge reduction in cash flow. They will be left with no choice but to increase their fuel levies for their suppliers, who will either pass that increase onto the retailer (who will then hike prices to the consumer) or absorb the cost themselves.

“Our farmers will take the brunt of these fuel levies, and they already on their knees, at the mercy of the giant supermarket chains in terms of the price they get paid for their produce. They have no ability to increase the price per carton in line with the increase in fuel levies coming from the transport operators because they are beholden to the price set by the retailers and so they will be the ones to absorb the cost.

“Not only has there been a 50 per cent increase in fuel costs over the last 12 months, but there has also been a 160 per cent increase in the price of fertiliser (urea), packaging costs have increased roughly 40-50 per cent and chemicals are up 123 per cent.

“We understand that everyone is doing it tough but punishing our vital transport operators after what they have already suffered, and continue to suffer from the critical AdBlue shortage, now 300 per cent higher in price, is not acceptable. We need our trucks to feed and move our nation,” Mr Katter said.

Leading North Queensland trucking company, Blenners Transport, sees a major disruptive flow-effect in inflation and wages. Owner Les Blenner said, “This time last year, our fuel levy was around 6 per cent, but we’ve had to increase that to 21 per cent.

“While the government gave us a 22.1 cent reduction in the fuel excise, they also took away our on-road fuel tax credit or 17.8 cents, and as a consequence, the net benefit for a heavy vehicle operator was reduced to 4.3 cents.
“When the price per barrel increases, this will disproportionately affect regional Australia, particularly growers with fixed-price contracts with major retailers.

“The higher cost of living will no doubt provide a launch platform for the Fair Work Commission to approve massive wages increases.

“What this has also done is allow transport companies the ability to claim only a small portion of fuel costs, while also allowing rail and mining companies (because their credits haven’t been impacted) to continue to claim the majority of the fuel costs, thus creating an unfair playing field,” Mr Blenner said.

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