Jul 4, 2011

Carbon tax last straw for trucking industry demanding answers

A union heavy who helped install Julia Gillard as prime minister now threatens to turn against her not because of her backflip on a carbon tax, but a backdown on supporting mandated rates of pay for truck drivers. It's an age-old argument.

Jason Whittaker — Former <em>Crikey</em> editor and publisher

Jason Whittaker

Former Crikey editor and publisher

A union heavy who helped install Julia Gillard as prime minister now threatens to turn against her not because of her backflip on a carbon tax, but a backdown on supporting mandated rates of pay for truck drivers.

To those who’ve worked in and for the transport industry — I spent more than six years reporting on the sector — the comments from Transport Workers Union boss Tony Sheldon in media yesterday and today are like a broken record. Just like the threat of blockades and go-slows and civil disobedience — attempts in the recent past have failed; truck operators never show up because they’re too busy trying to make a buck.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

32 thoughts on “Carbon tax last straw for trucking industry demanding answers

  1. Gavin Moodie

    I am struggling to identify the problem. The price of fuel goes up because the price of crude goes up, the value of the Australian dollar falls, or whatever. Truckies pay higher fuel bills and pass that on to their clients. The price of fuel goes up because the Government cuts a tax rebate that should never have been introduced, truckies pay higher fuel bills and pass that on to their clients. What’s the difference and what’s the problem?

  2. DanD

    Gavin: I think it a lot of cases the truckies are locked into medium-to-long term contracts (with people like woolies and coles) in which they can’t change the price and thus have to wear the loss of income themselves, or take shortcuts (both figuratively and literally) to reduce their costs and then things start getting dangerous.

  3. Gavin Moodie

    Maybe, but truckies lose money on their long term contracts whether fuel prices go up because the price of crude goes up or because they no longer get a tax rebate: I am still struggling to find the difference.

  4. JamesH

    How on earth is government intervention in the marketplace “unprecedented”? They do it all the time. In a mixed capitalist economy, it is basically their raison d’etre.

  5. Frank Campbell

    “another layer of complexity and debate”


    The “carbon” tax has escaped scrutiny so far because the details haven’t been released. Trucking is just one example of unintended, unpredictable and (to use Sen. Milne’s word today)” “perverse” effects. A bureaucratic nightmare- requiring an expanded bureaucracy.

    The Govt. now says that from Sunday it’ll be “explaining” the tax. We’ve been told that the “scare campaigns” are just that, the “sky won’t fall in” and similar banalities.

    Fact is people will then have the Devil’s address: in the detail. The government will sink further.

    The hubris of the Greens (“we’ll replace Labour”) is counterproductive. The Greens are driving the climate extremism which has created this shambles. The Higgins and Bradfield byelections were the first reality check (and certainly fooled Crikey). Far from transcending Labour, the Greens will lose some ground.

    Even the Oracle of the Obvious, Paul Kelly, has finally pontificated on the central fraud of the carbon tax: renewables-

    “This [Productivity Commission] report is an assault on the inefficiency and inequity of schemes that directly subsidise renewables. It estimates that for Australia in 2010 the combined impact of the Renewable Energy Target and solar PV subsidies equated to $149 million-$194m. If you believe in fiscal responsibility and consumer fairness you must wind-back the long sanctified and hugely inefficient renewable-energy policies designed to milk votes via gesture politics.”

    Kelly seems not yet to have grasped that renewables are not simply subsidised, they either don’t work (wind) or are not ready (all the rest).

    But we all know the carbon tax is “gesture politics”. It cannot affect climate at all.

    All a gift to the Right.

  6. Bellistner

    And there are fears the tax could distort the freight task. As trucking industry lobbyist Philip Halton told Australasian Transport News today, shielding vans and light trucks from the tax will provide incentive for operators to ditch their more efficient trucks for smaller vehicles — resulting in even higher emissions.

    So what’s he saying? Companies will trade in 10-tonne Hinos in favour of Econovans, and pay more in wages than they could ever hope to save in fuel? In order to avoid 7c/L tax, truck owners will drive less efficient vehicles?
    The trucking industry already gets plenty in government handouts. They don’t pay the full cost of the roads they drive on, but freight going by rail has to pay the full cost of the railway (unless owned by the ARTC, in which case there’s a very slight under-charging of GTKM).

    Any costs we incur will have to be passed on to consumers, which means you’ll have to pay more for your groceries.

    I’d have to go back and check my figures from an earlier debate on another forum, but I think the added cost on a typical truckload of food to your local Woolies is in the order single dollar figures.

  7. Liz45

    Why don’t they wait until they hear the facts before going off over nothing! It’s just ridiculous. Nobody wants to do anything – no personal sacrifices, nothing! I’m getting sick of listening to selfish people who don’t give a damn about the kids of tomorrow. We’ve used up their ‘supply’ of fresh air and have polluted and destroyed – it’s time to ‘pay back the bank’ for what we’ve used.

    We’ve had at least 10 years to start introducing non-polluting methods of energy use, and selfishly didn’t. those who’ve raped our lands and taken our resources resulting in gross profits to a few, whose selfishness and greed is mind boggling are the loudest whiners. Too depressing for words! I don’t even want to engage in a discussion any more. I just can’t believe that people don’t give a hoot about their future grand kids.

    We’re seeing a great increase in whales this year. If the oceans become more acidic or the temperature rises by just 1%, will the krill survive? And if not, the baleen whales will die too. I just get angry and depressed. I’m on a pension and don’t mind contributing to the future – I want my grandkids to have a world to live in, not one that’s f****d!

    As for food? I’ll just pull out the proverbial and start growing my own vegies! I’ve been talking long enough, now I’ll start doing!We could all do this – even in white broccoli boxes?

  8. michael crook

    Te concern here is that, despite promises, the ALP government has not improved the safety and/or working conditions of Australia’s truck drivers. This is supposed to be why the ALP exists, and yet they are not delivering. Can it be that none of them have a f….. clue what the life of working people is actually like?

  9. Gavin Moodie

    @ michael crook

    I agree that failing to improve truckies’ safety and working conditions is a problem. But I don’t think it helps to try to relate that to a carbon price: it distracts from the safety issue and makes truckies look like all the others trying to get a special handout.

  10. Malcolm Street

    Gavin – indeed. Where have the protests been over the last couple of years while the price of fuel has skyrocketed? Why only now over a carbon price the effect of which will be far less?

Leave a comment

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details