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Government threatens thousands of farms & rural small business

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DAVID H a w k e r : Federal Member for Wannon Shadow Minister for Land Transport


Government Threatens Thousands of Farms & Rural Smaijl Business

The Coalition spokesman on Land Transport has renewed his calls for an economic impact study on the effect of increased truck registration charges on rural and remote communities.

"Any responsible Government would make sure that the impact is known before any increases are contemplated. However, Labor seems intent on forcing up charges without waiting for the results of the studies into cost of living effects on rural Australia.

"Road transport already pays too much tax - most of which is not spent on roads. Contrary to Government misinformation the tax rate on the road freight industry is far higher than the 5.5% it quotes and far higher than the average of other industries.

"Rural Australia is reeling from the worst recession in 60 years, and the next year offers very little hope of recovery.

"Any increases in transport costs could be the death knell for thousands of farmers and small business people in rural areas. Unemployment, already unacceptably high in country areas, would increase further. The Government is arrogant and heartless in appearing to ignore this.

"It seems that Labor is just interested in another round of increasing taxes through the back door.

"Originally, road use charges were to balance across all vehicles. Cars would have seen quite significant falls in charges while heavier vehicles would have faced increases - meaning any changes will be revenue neutral. The current proposals only apply to vehicles over 4.5 tonnes - meaning that Government revenue will increase, since most charges in this range will probably increase.

"In the worst recession for 60 years" it seems extraordinary that the Government would consider placing an even heavier burden on the hardest hit sector of Australia.

"The Government must delay any decision on charges until the result of the studies into the impact on rural areas are made public. Otherwise, all the undertakings given by the Government at Alice Springs in March this year will be seen as meaningless.

ends 7 November 1991

Contact: David Hawker (06) 277 4231

Janice Wykes (06) 277 4231 or (06) 288 3946

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