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More protest action likely if truckies’ fuel levy demands unanswered

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Victorian Tippers United (VTU), the group behind yesterday’s protest action in Melbourne, is promising further disruption to the city’s traffic unless the state government meets its fuel levy demands.

More than 70 tippers caused caused commuter chaos after assembling on the ring road and travelling at speeds of about 20km/h over the West Gate Bridge, en route to state parliament on Spring St.

Later in the day VTU secretary and owner-driver Luke McCrone met with the advisors of Victorian Premier Dan Andrews to further argue the drivers’ case that a levy is urgently needed to offset crippling diesel prices.

“They listened attentitively and understand now why we are so fixated on getting a fuel levy,” said McCrone, who is hoping to hear back from the government later this week.

The VTU had threatened a similar protest a few months ago, but the state government quelled the disruption by increasing rates on government jobs with the further promise of an added fuel levy.

When that didn’t occur, McCrone said drivers were left with no choice but to take the stand they did.

“Hopefully the message now starts to get back to not only the government but the plant hires and their clients and customers that a fuel levy is absolutely desperately needed, and we’re prepared to dig in and fight for one,” he added.

McCrone said he’d like to see a fuel levy on a base rate of $1.65 per litre pegged to fuel usage of 100 litres per day for a tandem, 400 litres for a truck and trailer and 450 litres for a quad.

That means if the current diesel price is $2.35 per litre, a tandem driver would receive an extra $70 per day from the levy, being the difference between $2.35 and $1.65 multipled by 100 (litres).

VTU treasurer Ricky Woolcock, who was driving one of the trucks leading the convoy, told radio station 3AW that drivers were “going broke” as a result of the soaring cost of diesel fuel and some were making as little as $60 profit per day.

The Herald Sun reported that the Victorian Transport Industry Council has already recommended increases of between 5 and 6 per cent for drivers’ hourly rates.

A Victorian government spokesman said indicative rates for owner-drivers, including minimum rates for tip-truck drivers on government projects, were increased in April.

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