This week’s Federal Budget promises more supply chain chaos. An absence of targeted fuel cost relief and no action on deadly pressures exacerbated by COVID will force more workers to park up their trucks.
The Federal Government’s wholly inadequate plan to cut fuel prices is cold comfort to owner drivers forced to absorb extortionate diesel prices. Truckies can pay up to $1,000 to fill their tank, meaning a 22 cent per litre fuel cut only amounts to approximately $88 worth of relief at the bowser. Moreover, this ‘relief’ is a temporary measure.
The TWU has sent several letters to relevant government departments insisting that in the absence of a tribunal to support cost recovery, the Federal Government must provide targeted support which puts money directly into the pockets of truck owner drivers on razor-thin margins.
In recent months, transport workers and the TWU have also written to and sought meetings with the Prime Minister to propose workable solutions to COVID-19 and supply chain pressures. Key asks included access to free rapid tests to keep supply chains safe from COVID, particularly as we approach winter and deal with emerging variants. The Budget also fails to provide funding to regulate gig exploitation crippling supply chains through the Amazon Effect of cost cutting and undercutting.
Scott Morrison has neither acknowledged nor responded to workers’ very legitimate concerns, and the Budget outlines no plan to future-proof supply chains.
Transport workers have every right to feel betrayed by Scott Morrison. Transport workers have been doing the heavy lifting over these last few pandemic years. Rather than help make their difficult jobs easier, Scott Morrison’s given workers the cold shoulder.
Fuel costs are sky-high, and truckies are worried how they’ll break-even – let alone make a profit. Truck owner-drivers and small operators running on the whiff of an oily rag should not be paying any fuel excise while costs are through the roof and the Federal Government has no regulatory mechanism to support their cost recovery.
If Scott Morrison seriously wants to end these pressures, he should commit to slashing the fuel excise entirely for truckies and operators as a short-term solution until prices stabilise.
Truckies wouldn’t be in this position if the Federal Government had embraced the industry reform recommended by the Senate over six months ago. The Budget shows we shouldn’t hold our breath for action: there’s no long-term funding to establish an independent body to set enforceable standards and create effective cost recovery.
Without a plan to ease costs or keep workers from getting sick from new COVID variants, Australians should brace for supply chain chaos to continue. Any hopes we might finally have support from this Liberal-National Government to protect supply chains have been ruined – it’s clear Scott Morrison just doesn’t care.
Since the Federal Liberal-National Government tore down the tribunal dedicated to regulating road transport, 1028 people have died in truck-involved crashes – including 245 truck drivers.
The Federal Government justified abolishing the tribunal because of its “significant cost to the economy … with any potential safety benefits significantly outweighed by the associated costs”. The tribunal’s annual funding was $4 million. Research shows heavy vehicle crashes cost $4.64 billion a year.