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Friday, January 06, 2006

Tassie fuel subsidy call

Tassie fuel subsidy call

By NICK CLARK
07jan06

THE Motor Trades Association has called for the Tasmanian Government to increase the petrol subsidy received by motorists.

The Queensland Government provides a subsidy of 8.354 cents a litre compared with Tasmania of 1.95 cents a litre.

Executive director Stewart Wardlaw said that there was a greater case for the tax subsidy in Tasmania than in Queensland.

"While Queenslanders travel larger distances on average than Tasmanians there is a greater case for support here because average weekly earnings are lower," Mr Wardlaw said.

"The wealth of Queenslanders is much higher."






Mr Wardlaw said petrol taxes were regressive -- meaning that lower income earners paid a higher proportion of their income in tax.

The MTA believes that petrol was used as a revenue-raising commodity through GST and other duties.

"Petrol is used as a means of taxing people and is not linked to improving the road system," Mr Wardlaw said.

However, RACT chief executive Greg Goodman said the RACT believed the subsidy was a waste of money which was not affecting retail prices of petrol.

"It is money down the drain -- the oil companies are profiteering and we still pay 11-14 cents a litre more than Melbourne," Mr Goodman said.

"We would rather see the money put into roads."

The money is paid by the State Government to oil companies to cover the freight component of petrol supplies.

Mr Wardlaw's views came as the state Liberals stepped up their attack on the Government over petrol prices.

Shadow Treasurer Brett Whiteley said that if it was good enough for the Queensland Labor Government to provide cheaper petrol then Premier Paul Lennon should also do so.

But Denison MHA David Bartlett said that it was the Federal Government which was the "bowser wowser".

"For Brett Whiteley to suggest that high petrol prices have anything to do with the State Government is so ridiculous that no sane person on the planet would believe him," he said. Mr Whiteley said that the Lennon government was the most cashed up administration in Tasmanian history due to the GST.

Mr Whiteley, however, would not commit a liberal Government to increasing the subsidy. He said all state governments were funded by the Federal Government to pay a petrol subsidy although GST funds could be used at their discretion.

"The state Liberal team are investigating a range of options to take the pressure off family budgets ..." Mr Whiteley added.

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