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Sydney toll relief like a ‘Band-Aid on a bullet wound’

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The Transport Workers’ Union has slammed NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s toll relief announcement as grossly inadequate, likening it to a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.

Yesterday Perrottet announced small businesses, including owner-drivers and fleet operators, would be able to claim a rebate of up to $2000 for various state government fees and charges incurred between March 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 – including road tolls.

The union said the “pitiful” rebate works out to around $28.60 per week – around the same cost as a single one-way trip on NorthConnex or WestConnex for heavy vehicles.

TWU NSW State Secretary Richard Olsen said the announcement by the NSW Premier showed just how out of touch the NSW government is with the extreme pressures caused by Sydney’s out-of-control toll roads.

“While it’s good the NSW Government have finally woken up to the toll road crisis in Sydney, a one-off toll relief announcement of $2000 over a 70 week period won’t even touch the sides for owner-drivers and fleet operators in Sydney,” said Olsen.

“Owner drivers and fleet operators across Sydney are spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on road tolls every week, and our new Premier is patting himself on the back for offering pitiful relief of less than $30 a week.

“This pitiful toll relief announcement is a Band-Aid on a bullet wound – owner drivers and fleet operators need relief that is substantial and ongoing, not this one-off half- measure.”

“Mr Perrottet said on his first day in the job that Western Sydney would be at the heart of his Government – clearly that didn’t extend to owner drivers and fleet operators in Western Sydney who are the hardest hit by his Government’s toll roads.”

The announcement comes after a parliamentary inquiry recently heard evidence that the Toll Group had instructed its employees and owner drivers to avoid toll roads, because “in most cases, the cost of the toll roads outweighs any benefit [they] receive from using them”.

Road Freight NSW CEO Simon O’Hara said the Premier and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Scott Farlow, have obviously been listening to RFNSW and its advocacy on this issue.

“We welcome this announcement as a step in the right direction; but more needs to be done to incentivise truckies onto tollways,” said O’Hara.

“Road Freight in NSW needs ongoing relief and incentives on toll roads to ensure that these roads deliver for productivity and safety. It’s a bit like saying water is wet.

“We have seen the announcement today around a green hydrogen package for NSW; why don’t we incentivise greener and safer trucks onto toll roads further to one of the many policy submissions made by RFNSW?”

Update – 7.35pm: This story was updated with comment from RFNSW CEO Simon O’Hara.

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