10 May 2023

Freight subsidy needs to go to local businesses: trucking company

| Matt Nicholls
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Trucking operator Simon Tuxworth with his parents Norm and Val.

CAPE York’s leading trucking operator says the state’s proposed freight subsidy should go directly into the hands of small businesses in the region, rather than freight companies.

Simon Tuxworth runs the day-to-day business of long-time trucking company Tuxworth and Woods, a business started by his father Norm in 1972.

He said the state government’s pledge to spend $64 million to help reduce freight costs in the Cape, Torres Strait and the Gulf could be a game-changer, however, he was waiting to see how it would work.

The announcement was made on March 20 and so far very few details have been made about how the subsidy will operate.

In a statement, the government said the $64 million would be spent over five years and that “funding will be directed toward targeted subsidies for multi-modal freight services”.

It also said it would include the appointment of freight coordinators to “manage complex supply chains” and the “development of community infrastructure”, such as cold storage.

Mr Tuxworth said the only way the money could help those living in remote communities would be to directly subsidise the businesses paying for the freight.

“Even though it would probably benefit us more if the money was paid to us and other freight companies, I’d rather see the businesses get the funding,” he said.

“If the government created a register and businesses could show what their freight costs were for the previous year, then perhaps the subsidy could be based on that.

“We need to get as much of that money into the hands of locals and businesses as possible.”

Mr Tuxworth said the rising cost of freight was unavoidable.

“Our costs have probably gone up 35 per cent across the board in the last few years,” he said.

“There’s nothing that I can do about that as a business.

“We need to be able to maintain our services.”

Tuxworth and Woods run trucks into all corners of the Cape and Gulf and Mr Tuxworth said he had seen first-hand the impacts of high freight costs.

“Families are finding it very hard at the supermarket,” he said.

“The cost of living in places like Kowanyama or Doomadgee is a lot higher than it is in Cairns.”

One suggestion he had would be to provide fresh food to the communities for free.

“I know what a load of groceries looks like and it costs about $25,000 a week for produce for just one community,” Mr Tuxworth said.

“The state government could provide fresh, good food to a whole community – for free – at a cost of less than $50,000 a week.

“The health benefits would no doubt save them money in the long run.”

In the meantime, the state government is working out how to administer the freight subsidy, which won’t kick in until at least July.

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