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Labor sits down to end te 'blame game': and forces up taxes.



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Thu, 28th February 2008 LABOR SITS DOWN TO END THE 'BLAME GAME' - AND FORCES UP TAXES

The Hon Warren Truss MP Leader of the Nationals Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Local Government

Federal, state and territory Labor transport ministers are tomorrow expected to force up taxes on the trucking and bus industry for registration and fuel, feeding inflation and higher grocery prices.

This will be first official increase in taxes since the election of the Rudd Government, and it is happening because for the first time every transport minister in Australia is Labor, said the Leader of The Nationals, Warren Truss.

If as expected the ministers agree to the changes, the trucking industry will be slugged an estimated $170 million extra a year in registration charges and many millions more in increased fuel costs.

''Who will end up paying for these extra charges and taxes? Consumers of course, through higher prices for their groceries and other products carried around this nation by our truck driving fleet,'' Mr Truss said.

''Labor's claims to be fighting inflation are empty!

''For a number of years, the Coalition was able to hold off the State and Territories from increasing heavy vehicle registration charges. Now they will get free reign to raise charges by as much as 226 percent and fuel taxes from 19.6 cents per litre to 21 cents.

''The Federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, has wrongly claimed that the Coalition supported these increases last year. Given the proposal to be considered by the Australian Transport Council in Canberra tomorrow is largely similar to the one I blocked two years ago, I can safely say the Coalition would have blocked it again.

''It appears there is no longer any protection for Australia's hard working trucking and bus industries, or indeed the struggling farmers and cash-strapped mums and dads who will have to pay more as the increases flow through to them.

''We were told right through 2007 that Labor would end the 'blame game' between Federal and State governments. Now in 2008 we know what that really means - none of the Labor transport ministers sitting around the table tomorrow will blame each other for increased costs that will inevitably be worn by the people who can afford it least.

''Last year, Labor frontbencher Martin Ferguson, who was then spokesman for transport, told the trucking industry that 'squeezing profitability of the trucking industry is in no-one's best interests'.

''Mr Albanese told Parliament just last week about the importance of reducing business costs and delivering products to markets.

''If this decision goes ahead, Labor will stand condemned for driving up inflation and betraying the trust placed in them at the election,'' Mr Truss said.