HARD TIMES: Mechanic and owner of Lismore Motor Traders in South Lismore Geoff Howlett, left, is hurting badly as a result of t
HARD TIMES: Mechanic and owner of Lismore Motor Traders in South Lismore Geoff Howlett, left, is hurting badly as a result of t

Repairer struggles as fuel costs bite

By ZOE SATHERLEY

LISMORE mechanic Geoff Howlett has survived bowel cancer and a heart attack but he may not endure the petrol price hike.

After 40 years in the car repair industry he is facing the shutting down of his South Lismore business because he cannot meet his overheads. Lismore Motor Traders has been operating from a workshop in Three Chain Road for five years ?mostly successfully.

Mr Howlett said yesterday he was set to close because business had declined as motorists put off having jobs done in the wake of high fuel prices. His turnover had dropped from around $60-$80,000 per year to almost nil in the past month.

"No-one is bringing their cars in for repair," Mr Howlett said.

"They are putting it off ? putting it off ? because they haven't got the spare cash to fix things," he said. "They'll come in if the car stops and that's about it."

Mr Howlett said he felt sure there were many unsafe cars on the road.

"Drivers are trying to get every possible kilometre out of the brakes, steering, suspension and engine before having them repaired," he said.

"With fuel predicted to reach $2 a litre by Christmas, it will just get worse.

"I have got about two weeks left before I run out of savings and shut down. Then I will be at Centrelink registering as unemployed.

"I'm 57 and too old for anyone to give me a job."

Mr Howlett employs two mechanics and a labourer. They would also lose their jobs.

Mr Howlett's son Trent works in the business. He and his partner are expecting a first child in February.

"Of course we are worried about the future and the baby," he said.

Partner Nikki Murphy, who works as a support worker at Casino, said the money the couple should be saving for the baby was now going on increased fuel costs.

"I don't know how we'll manage if Trent loses his job. It's already very tight."

See tomorrow's

Northern Star

for where to

get cheap petrol.



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