Yet again the trucking industry is the victim of our second-class tax system, after the Australian Tax Office (ATO) messed it up again. Unfortunately, this unfair decision on driver expenses is merely a symptom of a disease which is apparent throughout those who make up the rules (as they go along, it would seem).
Where do they get off, reckoning a ‘truckie’ can only claim $55.30 a day in expenses, while others can claim almost twice as much, up to $109.35? Not only that, but the new amount has been cut down from over $97. Has the food in truck stops suddenly dropped in price?
Clearly, it is more expensive, year on year, living on the road and working there. There must be a reason for halving the expenses allowance. Perhaps, the ATO reckons all of the truckies are rorting the system and claiming maximum allowable expenses as compensation for low basic wages. That may be the case, but if so, the same would be true in other industries, where the economic pressures are just the same.
According to Geoff Crouch, Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chair, the ATO believes truckies are filling up on cheap junk food and fizzy drinks and, therefore, need their allowance reduced. Driver health and retention in our industry is bad enough now, we don’t need the ATO to incentivise a poor diet for truckies and increasing health problems.
In fact, we need the opposite. We need to incentivise someone to improve the quality and choice of food sold in outlets truckies can access. The truckie who wants to stay fit has very little choice. If they haven’t brought their entire diet with them, they have to park the truck in a location from which good food is inaccessible. At best, a healthy food outlet will be an expensive taxi ride away, but often it is 100km down the road, in a location where trucks aren’t allowed to park.
All of these issues illustrate a point which comes up time after time in places like this opinion column, namely, the total lack of respect for people working in the trucking industry which holds sway in government and in society as a whole.
Okay, sometimes those working on the coalface of the industry don’t help themselves in their dealings with others, but this is after a lifetime of being ignored. This latest snub by the ATO is just the latest in many decisions by people who know nothing, which affects the lives of those people who ensure those same ATO employees can buy breakfast cereal in the supermarket, get a latté at the café and buy their trendy clothes online.