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Truckies save less than $20 a tank after ‘meaningless’ excise cut

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s fuel excise cut in last week’s federal budget has failed to deliver any relief to truckies working on razor thin margins, say peak bodies.

In the budget, the Morrison government halved the fuel excise from 44.2c-a-litre to 22.1c, but didn’t budge on the road user charge of 26.4c-a-litre.

That means truckies can’t claim the usual difference between 44.2c and 26.4c as their fuel tax credit for the next six months, which was 17.8c, and a critical cash injection at BAS time.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg stressed that truckies would still be 4.3c-a-litre ahead after the budget because the excise saving is 4.3c more than the RUC, but no one in the industry is seeing it that way.

Transport Workers’ Union assistant national secretary Nick McIntosh said the resulting savings of less than $20 on an average $1000 tank is largely meaningless.

“A saving of 4 cents a litre, when you’re filling up a 400 litre tank, equates to less than $20 off on a $1000 fuel bill – it’s nothing,” said McIntosh.

“Crippling fuel costs means doing more with less to make ends meet, and in transport that is deadly. Whether it is driving longer hours on less sleep, bigger loads and fewer breaks, or longer distances between proper services and maintenance – at every point shrinking margins means a compromise on safety.”

According to a TWU survey conducted in 2021, three in four owner-drivers had worked for no profit and nearly two thirds were constantly worried they would need to sell their truck to get by.

More than half said they had been forced to delay maintenance to their trucks because they could not afford it.

Steve Shearer, executive director at the South Australian Road Transport Association, is now lobbying hard at a federal level alongside the Australian Trucking Association for a solution to the industry’s budget snub.

“In my 30 years, the most united I’ve seen the trucking industry was when the RSRT debacle came to a head in 2016: that will be matched by this,” said Shearer.

“A lot of people in the industry haven’t woken up yet. But the industry will very quickly wake up and it will be the number one issue Australia-wide, and they will be united.

“This will affect every single truck operator to the same degree. The dollar amount for the guy with two trucks might be a lot less than the dollar amount for the guy with 30 trucks, but the impact and proportion within their business is exactly the same.”

For more information on the excise changes, click here.

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