Truckies have vented their frustrations with the Labor government’s decision to raise the road user charge (RUC) by 6 per cent a year for the next three years.
This week’s announcement will see the ‘truckies’ tax’ jump from 27.2 cents to 32.4 cents per litre of diesel used by 2025.
Speaking to Ben Fordham Live radio show, AJ from Tripodi Transport, said the impact will be massive.
“That means our costs to our customers will go up and that will start the domino effect,” said the third-generation operator in the construction sector,” he told Fordham.
“Last year when diesel prices reached $2.20 we’ve seen prices go up in the stores.”
With 40 tippers running he uses anywhere from 60,000-70,000 litres of diesel a week with a weekly fuel bill that easily tops $100,000 each week.
The RUC hike from July 1 means he’ll be unable to distribute raises to staff.
“They (staff) come to us when their cost of living goes up and go: “Hey boss, we need some more money’, but you know, we’ve got to pay extra for all these things.
“So I just ended up going around and around in circles with these high costs to us.”
Les, who carts containers, told Fordham it’s yet another hit on a “cash cow”.
“The more you do, the more they hit us with taxes,” he said. “We’re paying twice as much for fuel than this time last year. It’s ridiculous; our rates don’t go up.
“This is road tax being brought back in. That’s what Razorback was all about when they had that strike all those years ago.
“This is Labor bringing it back in again and it’s only going to get worse.”
Even with a small fleet, Les told Fordham the RUC jump is going to make it tough to make ends meet.
“I’m paying anywere up to $1000 a week in tolls, so I’d hate to think what AJ is paying.”
When Fordham asked Les if there was any good news in the budget, he shot back a firm “No”.
“Go on the dole, that’s all it tells us. Go on the dole and you’ll get more money because the harder we work, the more we have to give the money away.”
Meanwhile, high-profile North Queensland MP Bob Katter warns that the RUC increase will cause significant price increases of goods throughout Australia, but particularly in the north.
“Unless transport companies, farmers or small businesses can afford this burden, we will all have to pay the price at the checkout,” said Katter.
Katter said one transport company he’d spoken to in North Queensland considered this proposed budget measure would increase its annual costs by $461,000.
“Transport companies cannot, and will not, afford this cost and will have to pass on the charges to their customers – farmers and small businesses.”
Katter said a 6 per cent increase in transport costs per year over three years would not only increase transport costs for farms but also increase the transport-related fertiliser and packaging costs – leaving nothing for the farming families.
“Either the consumer pays more for Australian fruit and vegetables or farmers walk off the land and small business will shut,” he said.
“Something must give, either government reverses this insidious charge, or transport companies, farmers and small business go bust, or we all pay more at the checkout.
“The headline cost-of-living budget measure, the $500 in relief to our hip pocket will last less than a week – what about the other 51 weeks?.
“We are in a cost-of-living crisis, we need a government with an understanding of the implications of its decisions and the gumption to make real and tangle decisions that will assist all Australians.”
Wright MP Scott Buchholz also slammed the Labor government for hiking heavy vehicle charges, which will hit the industry through the fuel bowser and their rego bill.
“The Albanese government has hit our heavy vehicle operators with an 18 per cent total increase with a 6 per cent increase, each year, for the next three years, through heavy vehicle charges, which will sting truckies at the fuel pump and also through their rego bill,” said Buchholz.
“Everything we buy, manufacture, grow and build in this country touches the back of truck, whether it originates on a farm, from a factory, or enters the country via a port.
“Sadly, heavy vehicle operators will have no choice but to pass this hike in government taxes on to their customers, which will jack up the cost of everything transported by our truckies.”
Buchholz said he is constantly confronted by the industry with reports of up to 20 per cent of fleets parked up.
“I appreciate that some would like to see the RUC be indexed at the CPI for certainty for long-term contracts.
“However, when in government I fought to freeze the RUC, and worked tirelessly to support the industry through the Covid-19 pandemic through negotiating border restrictions and roadhouse closures.
“Now is not the time for Labor to use our transport sector to impose an excessive tax hike which will send Australian’s cost of living skyward.”