$44m fuel subsidy scrapped for Northern NSW

A GOVERNMENT plan to trash Northern NSW's petrol subsidies is a kick in the face for residents, Nationals Lismore MP Thomas George has said.

Reports emerged yesterday that NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal had confirmed the $44 million a year petrol subsidy scheme operating in Northern NSW would be scrapped in today's mini-Budget.

The subsidy puts the region on par with Queensland, which offers a subsidy of 8.35 cents a litre. The subsidy is implemented at 8.35 cents a litre near the border, and scales down to 1.67 cents at Nambucca Heads.

The move would lift petrol prices about three cents a litre on the Northern Rivers, placing greater pressure on residents and on transport-intensive businesses that must fill up at local bowsers.

Jason Moore, of Lismore Taxi Trucks, said the move would cruel his already pressured operation.

“That sort of move bites into profit and you can't bump up your prices because other people will undercut you,” he said. “Every petrol price rise is detrimental.”

Craig Standage, of CLS Transport in Byron Bay, said the State Labor Government had as much to lose from the move as taxpayers, with heavy truck transport, as a rule, ignoring NSW service stations in favour of cheaper Queensland fuel.

“With a small company of four trucks I would stand to lose $4000 a month if I bought fuel in NSW,” he said.

“I don't like giving money to governments just for the sake of it.”

With truck transport buying over the border, the NSW Government stood to lose GST revenue and was placing jobs at the bowser at risk, Mr Standage said.

Mr George said ditching the subsidy risked pushing people out of the Northern Rivers.

He said residents were already doing it tough and petrol prices were higher in the regions than in Sydney.

“By cutting the petrol subsidy scheme there is a real concern that people will leave NSW and go to Queensland,” he said. “There will be a loss of jobs on the Northern Rivers, and that is the last thing people need right now going into an economic downturn. The Government is acting against the interests of people in this State – the only people who will benefit from scrapping the scheme will be across the border in Queensland.”

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