Fuel increase to add $15,000 to transporter costs

By: Graham Gardiner

Queensland-based transport operators may soon be paying close to 10 cents more a litre for fuel, leading to a massive

Queensland-based transport operators may soon be paying close to 10 cents more a litre for fuel, leading to a massive increase in running costs and consumer goods.

The State Government is considering axing the State’s 8.35 cents per litre Fuel Scheme Subsidy in an attempt to restore the State’s coffers which have been ravaged by the global financial crisis.

Premier Anna Bligh and Treasurer Andrew Fraser have refused to guarantee the future of the $541 million subsidy, prompting concerns for the future of small companies using B-doubles.

If the fuel scheme is abolished, the Queensland Trucking Association claims B-double operators’ fuel costs will blow out by $15,000, coinciding with a $3000 jump in registration fees nationwide from July.

"It is unreasonable that small business should be slugged up to $20,000 in additional tax and costs, per B-double, in the current difficult economic times," Garske says.

"I suspect that many small business operators particularly owner drivers and small fleets operating B-doubles will revert to single trailers."

The Government is also being warned that any moves to scrap the scheme will have a widespread impact because trucking companies will need to increase road freight charges.

"The Premier will need to explain to the community why she is forcing up the costs of consumable goods and building products by 3 percent," Garske says.

The QTA has written to the Government demanding a meeting, with Garske saying there is no justification in the short or long term for the subsidy to be scrapped because the State’s finances are not as dire as other economies.

The scheme was introduced following a High Court decision banning the states and territories from collecting a fuel excise. Queensland never had a fuel tax, leading it to reach an agreement with the federal government to provide a subsidy.

According to Queensland Treasury’s mid-year fiscal outlook released in January, the State’s surplus is expected to plummet to $54 million as opposed to the original figure of $809 million.

Revenue from taxes was also forecast to fall $884 million due to a slowing property market, pushing the Budget into deficit for the next four years.

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