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States Must Follow Federal Lead and Put Brakes on Transport Costs

17 March 2006

THE Federal Government has demonstrated it is ‘fair dinkum’ about managing the economy by slamming the brakes on the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) bid to increase taxes on fuel by 10.5% and boost state truck registration charges by 35%.

“We welcome the Federal Government’s sensible approach to protect families from the inevitable flow-on these charges would impose on consumers,” National Farmers’ Federation CEO Ben Fargher said. “Now we need to see the same leadership from State Governments.

“If the NTC plan was to go ahead it would be a body blow for farmers and the transport sector as they struggle to absorb already soaring fuel prices, particularly in regional Australia. In the current climate, the NTC’s bid to exacerbate that burden would undoubtedly see families forced to pay more in shopping centres around the country.”

The NFF campaigned to have the Federal Government hold off on the transport price hike, and has welcomed Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Services Warren Truss’s announcement that the Federal Government will vote no to the increases when transport ministers meet on 21 March 2006.

“The South Australian and Tasmanian Governments have indicated they will reject the proposal and the rest of the Australian Transport Ministerial Council (NSW, Victoria, Queensland, WA, the ACT and NT) need to do the right thing, too,” Mr Fargher added.

NFF recently briefed the Productivity Commission who are conducting an inquiry into the efficiency of all road and rail transport and is due to complete its report by the end of the year.

“Given the prevailing economic environment with inflated fuel prices, it makes sense to wait at least until the results of this major inquiry are on the table for us to assess,” Mr Fargher noted.

“If the other State’s follow suit, farmers will be better placed to deal with the economic impact fuel and transport costs are already having and help them get back on their feet, just as many are recovering from years of debilitating drought.

“It will also ease the pressure on families by not allowing transport costs to put upward pressure on inflation and interest rates.”

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

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