For a few anxious weeks, Sydney operator Tristan Wernhard feared this would be his last month of trading. With his monthly diesel bill now $25,000 higher than it was at the start of the year to run his six-strong fleet of prime movers, the boss of AA Plus Driving and Transport in Western Sydney thought he was on his last legs.
Luckily for Wernhard, he was able to negotiate a rate increase with those people he contracts to, carting general freight from Sydney to Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.
But with so many other costly variables in play, he’s still not sure how long the reprieve will last.
Wernhard told Big Rigs that his next big concern is the impact that the shelved Fuel Tax Credit (FTC) will have on his cash flow.
After the controversial decision by the former Coalition government to abolish the FTC until September, many operators won’t have the cash rebate from the ATO they usually get after filing their next quarterly BAS.
Wernhard said he also has to factor in skyrocketing tyre costs, insurance, maintenance, and a weekly toll bill of $1000.
“Everything’s going up, it’s not just fuel, it’s across the board,” added a frustrated Wernhard.
He said the industry has got to the stage in which many operators he knows are forced to “rob Peter to pay Paul” in order to keep their heads above water.
“The drivers are still getting paid, that’s the first thing I make sure I do.
“But you have to ask yourself, when is this sustainable and when isn’t it…and it’s at the point where it’s not.
“Everyone needs to stand up and say, ‘enough is enough – how often do we have to get screwed?’.”
South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) executive director Steve Shearer said the association continues to push hard to have the FTC restored to help operators like Wernhard survive.
“We will not back off because the industry’s and the supply chain’s survival is at stake.”
An extensive survey of its members revealed that 57 per cent face financial collapse if the FTC isn’t resumed before the end of September.
“Whether they like it or not, Labor has inherited an almighty mess from the Coalition and they have to step up to the plate and fix this,” he told host Steve Price on the Australia Today radio show recently.