AusRAIL, Market Sectors

No relief yet for Queensland freight rates

<p>Freight rates in north Queensland are still up to 50% higher than before Cyclone Larry devastated the far north and north Queensland coast three weeks ago, Queensland Trucking Association executive director Peter Garske said this morning (Friday, April 7).</p> <p>Cyclone Larry left thousands of homes without power, damaged buildings and destroyed agriculture across 12,500 sq km in and around Innisfail.</p> <p>Winds of up to 290 km&#47h affected 90%-95% of Australia’s banana plantations.</p> <p>Queensland’s peak sugar industry group, Canegrowers, has estimated a typical loss of more than 40% of sugar in the Babinda and Innisfail areas, with up to 80% of some farmers’ crops lost.</p> <p>The Federal Government this week announced tax-free grants and wage subsidies of up to $25,000 for some of those affected.</p> <p>Some businesses will receive a fortnightly payment of $400 for every full-time employee affected by the cyclone. </p> <p>Canegrowers general manager Ian Ballantyne welcomed the federal and state governments’ &#8220swift response&#8221 so soon after the cyclone.</p> <p>But it is still uncertain how Queensland’s truck industry will be compensated after losing the bulk of its southbound freight.</p> <p>Mr Garske told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> that very little had changed in terms of relief to the freight industry since the cyclone hit.</p> <p>Freight rates had increased by as much as 50% to compensate for the loss of bananas and other goods heading south, Mr Garske said.</p> <p>He said he was not aware of any decision to provide relief to offset increased freight rates. </p> <p>&#8220I’m not unhappy with the communications I’ve had with government, albeit that it has not produced any immediate decision which is going to provide fundamental relief with respect to freight rates,&#8221 Mr Garske said.</p> <p>&#8220I’m satisfied that freight rates and the impact of increased freight rates are very much at the top of the mind for government.&#8221</p> <p>He said it would be better to subsidise those paying to bring goods into the cyclone-affected area, rather than truck companies.</p> <p>&#8220Most of the major companies I have spoken to have increased their rates by between 40 and 50%,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>Mr Garske said he hoped to continue the &#8220fruitful discussions&#8221 with the state and federal governments over the coming weeks.</p> <br />