Senate debates

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Cost of Living

3:10 pm

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

For you, Mr Deputy President, it would be my privilege. For my good friend Senator Fawcett—there's my second gift from heaven. Lord! This is getting better. I'm coming back! They thought that it was a great idea, in the dark of night, to slash the diesel fuel credits from the road transport industry and from the agriculture industry. Anyone with half a peanut in their head would understand where I'm going on this one. Our truckies and our agriculture industry—Senator Brockman, I wish you were still here—get 17.8c per litre to claim back every three months in their BAS. Guess what happened? There was not a 22 per cent reduction in diesel costs, because they stole the 17.8c diesel fuel credits from the road transport industry and the agriculture industry. I'll tell you what happened. All the truckies got was a 4c-a-litre reappraisal, or whatever the word is. I know about this because I sit at the bowser fuelling trucks in my spare time—it's a fun thing; the whole lot of you should try it—and, in the last 12 months, I watched diesel go from $1.50 to $2.40 a litre. Don't worry about the rip-off of the 17.8c. There's all that cost of diesel going too. What happens in the real world is that, when a lot of the big operators negotiate their contracts, they have what are called 'fuel levies'. I'm not going to insult your intelligence, senators, because you are the three smartest ones on that side. I'll give you that. You know exactly what I'm talking about. The majority of the transport industry—

No, three. Let's leave it at three, Matt. You and I are mates. Let's keep it that way. About 70 per cent of the road transport industry is mum-and-dad businesses—small to medium-sized enterprises, so to speak—who have no ability to negotiate the fuel levy. Oh, gee whiz! I can't believe it. Can I ask for an extension of time, please, Mr Deputy President? I could go for an hour on this underwater with a gob full of marbles! Those mum-and-dad businesses do not have the ability to put that back onto their costs. Do you wonder why we're seeing $10 iceberg lettuces? It's because the cost of road transport and agriculture has gone through the roof.

Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg—do you know the worst part about this? Not one of you said a darn thing. You know darn well it was the wrong thing. You knew it was just criminal to allow your previous Prime Minister and Treasurer to try and con the people of Australia, but the worst part is—it did me another favour; another present fell in my lap—that they absolutely disrespected the road transport industry. The only thing that saved them is the complete incompetence of the Australian Trucking Association, which I rightly call 'the Canberra branch of the National Party'. They don't represent the transport industry, and they weren't going to say anything to their Nat and Lib mates. I've got to tell you: thank goodness that everyone else raised their voices.

I kid you not, you brag about saving 22c a litre for the average family car—and for some families that would make a difference, absolutely. But for the $13 extra that is saved on the Hyundai, that got filled up once a week, put another, nearly, $30 in the cost of groceries at Woolworths, Coles and other stores—and you think that's good mathematics? And the good burghers of Australia woke up to you, because I couldn't wait to help every single Australian who was listening to what Josh Frydenberg and Scott Morrison pulled over their eyes whilst, sadly, the rest of you just sat there like lemons going over the edge of the cliff! Guess what? It's still a major problem.

The trucking industry and the agriculture industry are not the 'Bank of Australia'. You've paid for your sins. But, I'll tell you what, some of you—not you three good ones over there; the rest of you on that side over there—how you look in the mirror or how they look in the mirror at night and think that they've been a great representative of their communities, see how we go when the small family businesses come to you in tears because their businesses have gone—


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