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Ministers Put the Skids on NTC's Absurd Transport Slug

22 March 2006

Australia’s families, farmers and truckers scored a vital win with Transport Ministers voting a resounding ‘NO’ to the National Transport Commission’s (NTC’s) absurd proposal to increase taxes on fuel by 10.5% and state registration charges by 35%.

“The decision to put the skids on the NTC’s bid to slug practically everybody is a great relief for our farming and transport sectors and, indeed, for all families right across the country,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) CEO Ben Fargher said.

“The NFF strongly lobbied the Federal Government to back off on the transport price hike while both farmers and the transport sector are absorbing the costs of soaring fuel prices, and while many rural communities are now in the early recovering stages from debilitating drought, and others still in drought stricken regions.

“The states too clearly got the message early, with the Federal and State Governments indicating their voting intentions as early as last week. Yesterday’s vote, in the absence of a formal announcement by the NTC that its ‘out of touch’ proposal has been overwhelmingly quashed by Transport Ministers, is a good decision.

“The Ministers have taken the only economically responsible course available to them, allowing farmers and the road transport sector to better cope with the impact of already high fuel and transport costs on production.

“The ‘NO’ vote also alleviates greater pressures on families by not allowing further increases in transport costs to force up prices at the check-out and place upward pressure on interest rates.

“The Productivity Commission is currently conducting a major inquiry into the efficiency of all road and rail transport and is due to complete its report by the end of this year. That is the appropriate time and forum to be examining genuine reform proposals – not simply ramping up costs.

“The NFF recently briefed the Productivity Commission and we now trust the concerns of Australian’s $72 billion-a-year agricultural sector, which generates $30 billion-a-year in exports for Australia and supports 1.6 million Australian jobs across our cities and regions, will feature prominently in those findings.”

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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