Diesel tax rebates under attack?

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has used its pre-Budget submission to the Australian Government to defend the fuel tax credit system, which saves trucking operators 18.51 cents per litre on their fuel costs.

ATA CEO, Stuart St Clair, said that many people in the trucking industry were concerned the Government could abolish the fuel tax credit system or change its environmental criteria to exclude older trucks.

“Under the fuel tax credit system, businesses that operate heavy diesel vehicles with a gross vehicle mass of greater than 4.5 tonnes can claim an 18.51 cents per litre credit on the fuel tax they pay, provided those vehicles meet one of four environmental criteria,” Mr St Clair said.

“The fuel tax credit plays an absolutely vital role in keeping costs down for trucking operators, exporters and consumers. We estimate that eliminating the fuel tax credit system would increase the costs of many operators by about 22 per cent,” he said.

The cost increase would flow through to every part of the economy and would put upward pressure on the price of the everyday goods and services used by Australian families.

“It would increase a typical urban family’s grocery bills by about $86 per year and a typical rural family’s grocery bills by about $103 per year,” Mr St Clair said.

The ATA’s submission urges the Government to maintain the existing fuel tax credit system and its environmental criteria, which allow operators with pre-1996 vehicles to get credits as long as they maintain their trucks properly.

“Our industry operates more than 215,000 heavy vehicles that were manufactured in or before 1996. That’s 58 per cent of Australia’s entire heavy vehicle fleet. It’s absolutely essential that older vehicles remain eligible for the credit, provided they are maintained properly,” Mr St Clair said.

“For example, a trucking operator can meet the environmental criteria and claim fuel tax credits by joining TruckSafe and maintaining its trucks in accordance with the TruckSafe maintenance program.”

Mr St Clair said the Labor Party had supported the fuel tax credit system when it was in Opposition, but he emphasised that the industry still needed to remind the new Government of its importance.

The ATA’s pre-budget submission also puts the industry’s views on road funding, heavy vehicle charges, road regulation reform, and the need for more and better rest areas.

The submission can be downloaded from the policies and submissions area of the ATA website,

www.atatruck.net.au/policies_submissions.html

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