According to Kennedy MP Bob Katter, the approval of further increases to the road user charge (RUC) by the Australian government might be a disaster for truck companies, fruit and vegetable growers, and the consumer.
Katter was reacting to a current National Transport Commission industry discussion paper that proposes an RUC increase of as high as 9 cents per liter (cpl) over the next three years. He said that these costs would, of course, have to be passed on to the consumer in the end.
“Transport companies in my electorate are already warning growers that they are going to have no choice but to pass the cost onto farmers,” Katter said. “Farmers already burdened by labor shortages and a recent doubling of freight, fertilizer, and packaging costs – will be left with two choices: go bust or get a higher price for their fruit and vegetables.”
“Put simply, if the consumer is not willing to pay higher prices for Australian fruit and vegetables, our supermarket fruit and vegetable shelves will be empty. Immediate action from the federal government to overturn this ridiculous decision is required to support Australian farmers, not crucify them. I don’t know of any truckies that are flying in private jets or going off on overseas holidays, so the expectation they are to absorb these costs and survive is laughable.”
Katter said 3000-4000 farmers were leaving the industry every year and turning to cattle because the costs were killing them in crop farming.
Townsville transport operator Clynton Hawks said the industry lacked transparency and that increases to the RUC would decrease the fuel tax credit (FTC), a crucial cost alleviation for truck drivers. “We’ve already been hit with inflated prices of diesel, insurance, and AdBlue, and now we are being told we have to absorb a 9 cpl increase – it’s just wrong,” Hawks said.