Fuel scheme may be unconstitutional, says MLC

CHANGES to Queensland's fuel subsidy system would discriminate against drivers from other states and may possibly be unconstitutional, according to North Coast MLC, Catherine Cusack.

Ms Cusack raised the matter in Parliament on Thursday, quoting Section 117 of the constitution which states: "A subject of the Queen, resident in any State, shall not be subject in any other State to any disability or discrimination which would not be equally applicable to him if he were a subject of the Queen resident in such other State."

The system Queensland plans to introduce in April next year would require drivers to show their Queensland licence when they pay for their fuel to obtain an 8.35 cents per litre subsidy.

"We are calling on the Government to take action in the High Court to protect the constitutional rights of our citizens and to consider other appropriate and proportionate retaliatory action should the Queensland Government proceed with its discriminatory fuel scheme," Ms Cusack said.

She suggested imposing taxes on trucks coming into NSW from Queensland of up to $300 as a possible measure.

"Premier Iemma needs to fight for our rights. To charge an extra 8.35 cents per litre of fuel to people for no reason other than they live on the wrong side of the road from Queensland is disgraceful."

Petrol stations in Northern NSW are subsidised under a system known as 'petrol shading' to make them competitive with their Queensland counterparts. Treasurer Michael Costa said the system would be reviewed, which could push up prices in the region by 8.5 cents.

"They don't understand the impost that will come from this," Ms Cusack said.

"We actually confront direct competition from Queensland; the rest of NSW doesn't have this problem. This will be like pushing the local economy off the edge of a cliff."

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