In a teleconference held with the Deputy Prime Minister on Monday, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) presented a bushfire recovery plan developed by the ATA General Council.
The plan sets out the immediate, medium, and long-term assistance needed by Australian trucking businesses affected by the bushfire crisis, which include the disaster recovery allowance, concessional loans, and extension of the instant asset write-off.
ATA Chair Geoff Crouch said the participation of more than twenty industry representatives in the development of the ATA’s proposal highlighted the industry’s level of concern about the bushfires.
“The impact these fires have had on trucking businesses and their employees is unprecedented. Some have lost their homes, workplaces or equipment. Others have been dealing with prolonged time away from their families, suffering financial loss and personal hardship as a result of road closures and lengthy delays,” Mr Crouch said.
“We appreciate the collaborative consultation process the government is undertaking, and value the opportunity to put the trucking industry’s needs on the bushfire recovery agenda.
“First and foremost, we have recommended the Disaster Recovery Allowance be made available as a wage subsidy to employers who can demonstrate loss or hardship as a result of the bushfires and that the allowance or any wage subsidy be extended from 13 to 26 weeks.
“We also believe that the Western Australian Shires of Dundas and Coolgardie should be disaster declared, so owner drivers held up by the closure of the Eyre and Coolgardie-Esperance highways can access the assistance.”
The ATA’s proposal recommends that small business owners who receive concessional loans under the government’s assistance package have the option to select monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly repayment terms once their initial repayment and interest holiday has come to an end.
In addition, the ATA has recommended the instant asset write off to enable businesses to secure cash flow advantages.
“We believe the Government should increase the asset write off to $50,000 for one year only, with the higher write off to come to an end on 1 July 2021. At present, the write off is scheduled to fall from $30,000 to $1000 on 1 July 2020,” Mr Crouch said.
Mr Crouch said the ATA had also called for the postponement of planned increases to truck taxes, which would see businesses pay an extra $132.8 million in the 2020-21 financial year compared to 2019-20.
“Given the cash flow implications of increasing the road user and registration charges, any increases in the road user and registration charges should occur from 1 July 2021 rather than 1 July 2020,” he said.
“With the industry already struggling as a result of the bushfires, the introduction of this increase in 2020 would only add to their burden.”
Mr Crouch said for the longer term, the ATA had proposed extending the Farm Management Deposits Scheme to eligible trucking businesses.
“To help the trucking industry weather future natural disasters, the FMD scheme should be extended to include trucking businesses that receive more than 50 per cent of their income from sectors that currently have access to FMDs,” Mr Crouch said.
The ATA said it will put forward additional long-term measures later this year, and will raise the need for payroll tax concessions directly with state governments.