With petrol prices breaking through the $2-a-litre barrier in some parts of Victoria, a call for a cut in fuel excise is growing in parliament.

Primary producers need pricing relief at the petrol pump, a South Australian senator says, leading a push to cut fuel excise.

Independent senator Rex Patrick told The Weekly Times that with many service stations charging more than $2 a litre for unleaded petrol, now was the time for Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to consider slashing the bowser tax.

“Businesses and households in regional and remote Australia are already feeling the squeeze from extreme fuel prices,” the crossbench senator said.

“Despite the Prime Minister’s hopes, this situation is unlikely to be short term, and the pressure will be particularly acute for agriculture and other fuel intensive industries.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison ruled out any changes to the fuel excise rate last week but the government’s position has been less clear-cut in recent days.

On Sydney commercial radio this week, Mr Frydenberg declined to say whether the fuel excise rate would be cut.

The Treasurer is set to hand down the federal budget later this month before a general election expected in May.

“I do recognise the price of fuel has dramatically increased,” the Treasurer told 2GB radio.

Senator Patrick said the Federal Government could afford a short-term hit to the budget in order to ensure farmers and regional businesses weren’t priced out by fuel costs.

“The Government is committing at least a billion dollars a week to election pork barrelling in largely metropolitan seats they’re hoping to win,” he said.

“They should cut that out and make a commitment to provide immediate relief to struggling families and small businesses across the country with a 50% cut to the fuel excise.

“That would deliver a direct benefit to millions of Australians, especially those on lower incomes and those in the regions who spend proportionately more on fuel and have no choice about how many kilometres they drive each week.”

Extracted in full from: Fuel prices: Rex Patrick pushes for petrol tax slash | The Weekly Times (weeklytimesnow.com.au)

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