ALRTA calls for 'incoming smoothing scheme'

Marley proposes scheme feasibility study followed by pilot

ALRTA calls for 'incoming smoothing scheme'
Stephen Marley


Persistent challenges to the rural freight task have prompted the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) to reinforce calls for an income smoothing scheme for transporters dependent on the agricultural supply chain.

ALRTA reports it has written to Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg asking the federal government to investigate the feasibility of establishing the scheme, including eligibility, rules and rollout.

ALRTA national president Stephen Marley says the Rural Transport Management Deposit Scheme would improve resilience in the agricultural supply chain.

"During 2019-20, Australian rural transport businesses were affected by unpredictable events including drought, fire, flood, closure of the live sheep export market and COVID-19," Marley says.

"Our sector is inexorably linked with the seasonal and regulatory environment affecting agricultural production."

Primary producers have access to a Farm Management Deposit Scheme (FMDS) that allows tax-deductible deposits in ‘good years’ that can be withdrawn and taxed in later years. 

"ALRTA believes that a Rural Transport Management Deposit Scheme could similarly assist eligible road transport businesses become more resilient, reducing need for direct government assistance," Marley says.

"One of the cornerstones of the proposed scheme is that it is self-funded by its own beneficiaries. 

"For this reason, it is important to establish the scheme several years prior to the next seasonal, regulatory or economic downturn."

Calls for a smoothing scheme originally surfaced after the bushfire season

Given that the proposal is largely based on the existing FMDS, Marley is hopeful that it might be possible to make provisions for a small-scale pilot in the 2020-21 Federal Budget.

 "It is in Australia’s national interest to make preparations now so that rural trucking businesses are able to endure the worst-case economic circumstances that might be faced in future," he says.


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