Any diesel price relief must put money directly into truckies’ pockets to avoid sending owner-drivers broke, or increasing deadly truck crashes on our roads, says the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU).
The union was reacting to Prime Minister Scott Morrison all but confirming yesterday that some help was on its way in next week’s federal budget – either through a temporary reduction in the fuel excise or a freeze on its indexed increases.
“We are extremely conscious of the impact, particularly of the rise in fuel prices on the cost of living and the cost of doing business because fuel prices flow right through,” Morrison said.
“The terrible things we’re seeing in Ukraine … are having a big impact on the global economy and particularly on the price of oil by the barrel.
“And that is pushing these costs up. Australians understand. And so, the Treasurer and I have been working carefully to ensure we get our response right in addressing these cost of living pressures that Australians are facing right across the spectrum.”
With their “razor-thin” margins, even small increases in operating costs caused by rising fuel prices can mean the difference between truckies earning enough money to put food on the table and going out of business, said the TWU.
The Prime Minister last week received a letter from the TWU demanding the federal government provide immediate financial support to truck drivers to combat rising fuel prices.
The union said it still had not received a response.
TWU national assistant secretary Nick McIntosh warned that unless the Prime Minister listened to owner-drivers and small fleet operators, national supply chains could grind to a halt.
“Any steps taken to bring down the extraordinary cost of fuel are welcome, but not if they exclude the hardworking men and women who have kept supply chains moving through Covid, bushfires and dangerous flooding.
“It’s hard enough to be an owner-driver or small fleet operator when wealthy companies at the top are squeezing transport to keep costs low, and gig companies like Amazon are dangerously undercutting the industry.
“Adding astronomical fuel costs to the mix only makes our Australia’s deadliest more dangerous. Truckies shouldn’t have to park up or put themselves in harm’s way because they simply can’t afford to make a decent living.
McIntosh said that every day this problem drags on without resolution is another day owner-drivers lose money, go out of business or take unnecessary risks.
“These measures wouldn’t be necessary if Scott Morrison just did his job and established an independent body with the power to set enforceable standards in transport, including effective cost recovery from wealthy companies at the top of supply chains.
“This regulation was recommended by the Senate over six months ago, and yet the Prime Minister has refused to act. Only by establishing such a body would drivers have an industrial system which eases short-term price pressures and ends the longer-term financial squeeze making road transport so deadly.”
The TWU has also been calling on the federal government to sign up to a set of supply chain principles to protect essential industries against external shocks like covid variants, flooding and global supply chain disruption.