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Monday, 12 September 2011
Page: 9566

Ms MARINO (ForrestOpposition Whip) (11:43): The harmonisation of regulations, as we have heard today, is important to driving practical productivity and road safety improvements. However, the member for Makin's commendation of the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport may well be premature. I note that, in relation to the Intergovernmental Agreement on Heavy Vehicle Regulatory Reform, in the 19 August communique, COAG stated that Western Australia did not formally sign the agreement but expressed support for these reforms. Subject to its concerns being addressed, Western Australia will sign the Intergovernmental Agreement on Heavy Vehicle Regulatory Reform. So there are concerns still there and more consultation is required. The Australian Trucking Association also said the same thing: that it did not support mass-distance-location pricing for myriad reasons. Today we have heard there are 245 issues. However, I agree that the road transport industry and road safety issues are critical to the Australian economy and in particular to regional and rural Australia. This is why I will move the following amendment:

That the following words be inserted:

(5) condemns the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and the Gillard Government for its introduction of a carbon tax on transport fuel.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Is the amendment seconded?

Mr Wyatt: I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.

Ms MARINO: As we know, one of the biggest issues that has been raised here is the issue of driver safety and issues in regional areas. We do know that the carbon tax will have a significant impact on transport costs across Australia, and that it is a major threat to the economic development of regional areas. It will apply to road, and, in particular, to truck transport from 2014. Every vehicle and every product to be received and transported will have to pay the cost of this tax. These imposts will mean higher costs and greater impacts in regional areas.

In addition, the government's proposal to slash the fuel tax credits for heavy vehicles by almost 7 cents a litre from July 2014 will cost the industry and its customers. I am very concerned about owner operators, owner drivers and those who are working on very finite margins right now. We know of the distances and we know the east to west route. I know that the member for Hasluck is aware that it could cost $3,000 to transport a load from east to west and probably another $2,800 from Perth through to Kununurra. There are going to be some major costs associated with this.

The additional cost is going to compound for regional Australia and increase the impact of road freight transport costs. It is how that comes back to the individual trucking owner operators and, again, how that may or may not be passed on to families and consumers that is the issue. The additional costs will be felt by all of those in the industry. I know that there are so many of them who are working on very finite margins and that this is a major issue for rural and regional Australia. Basically, everything that you eat, drink, use or do in regional Australia comes from the back of a truck. Any increase to the costs is going to have a flow on not only to the individual trucking enterprise but also to individuals, families and communities right across this nation.

With the additional cost that is going to be borne I am concerned that in this latest round of Regional Development Australia funding there was no funding for roads in my electorate at all. I do know that the carbon tax will add to the cost of producing those roads in rural and regional areas. This is going to be a compounding cost; I am very concerned about the issues in relation to the economics, the practical issues, and the road safety issues. Any additional cost to the trucking industry and to the individual owners and drivers either has to be absorbed by them because it is such a competitive market or passed on by them to consumers.

I am concerned about the road safety issues that go with this and the impact on the families and those who are involved in this industry. They deliver produce right around Australia on a daily basis; they do it very, very well. This country cannot do without the road transport sector, and I support their efforts for Australia. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): As the member's amendment is not in writing, signed and on the table, she leaves me in a precarious situation. I will advise that for an amendment to be considered it should be before the House so that everyone can actually read it. You cannot just spring it; it actually has to be in writing, signed and on the table. I will leave it with the clerks to determine how to go forward, but the common courtesy and the procedure is that it is on the table at the time.