Election announcements and sweeteners have swamped all our news feeds and this will continue over the coming weeks. With many media outlets choosing to focus on meaningless ‘gotcha’ moments and with major parties competing for that ‘winning headline’, it is increasingly difficult to find policy detail and get a sense of long-term strategy behind election commitments.
Queensland farmers are faced with many opportunities but also many challenges. It is important that those seeking election are able to communicate the detail of policy announcements and not distract or distort issues with short termism designed to win votes.
The recent inclusion of a six month fuel excise reduction in Federal budget announcements and the corresponding fuel tax credit debacle that has ensued is a good example of a smoke and mirror exercise that potentially does more harm than good.
While the average general motorist understandably raised a collective cheer at the announcement and our politicians gave themselves a collective part on the back, the ramifications of the fine print contained in this decision has not proved useful for many industries including the agriculture and transport sectors – indeed any industry that relies on heavy vehicles to move product.
On one hand, the hand that gives, it was announced the fuel excise would dropped to 22.1c/litre from 44.2c/litre for everyone for six months to ease cost of living pressures.
On the other hand, or the hand that takes away, the removal of on road fuel tax credit of 17.8 cents has meant trucking businesses will only see a 4.3c/litre fuel tax reduction, not the 22.1c/litre announced.
This policy on the run has been of no benefit to farmers and transport companies at a time when they need it most. The cut in fuel excise has not resulted in a reduction in freight costs as many were expecting. Transport is an integral part of the supply chain for farmers and many other industries across Queensland and the nation and this industry remains at the mercy of barrel price movements.
The outcome of this budget announcement may have meant mums and dads gained a weekly $15 saving at the bowser, but the underlying causes of increased costs of living remain unchanged.
We are hearing from many trucking operators the removal of fuel tax credits is having an impact on the cashflow of their transport business and is causing stress and hardship for many operators. Australia runs on trucks and we all rely on our transport industry significantly, farmers included.
Escalating farm input costs, transport and other supply chain costs are putting pressure on the long term viability of Queensland farming enterprises and contributing to the overall increasing costs of living across the community.
Policy and budget decisions are levers that effect change. There needs to be more consideration given to the wider ramifications of this particular policy but indeed all policy. Industry stands ready and willing to work with governments of the day to find workable solutions for the issues facing us so that policy outcomes achieve the desired outcome for all involved.