SHEREE Morton can't believe Tweed drivers are about to be hit with an eight-cents-a-litre fuel increase when people are already feeling the pinch.
The State Government will on July 1 abolish the northern NSW fuel subsidy, the day the Queensland Government scraps its own subsidy scheme.
But economists fear the price hike will also force up the cost of food, adding increased financial heartache to those in lower- income brackets, including pensioners and students.
The fuel subsidy, which saves Tweed residents up to 8.35c at the bowser, was set up to ensure local businesses could compete fairly with Queensland when it introduced its own subsidy scheme.
A spokesperson for NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal yesterday confirmed the NSW Government would abolish the northern NSW subsidy when Queensland loses its subsidy next month.
While the move is set to anger motorists across the region, it is pensioners, students and parents who are predicted to be worst hit.
Pottsville woman Ms Morton said the price hike was unfair, particularly when the economy was down. “Far out,” she said. “You just have to ask, where is the stopping point?”
Ms Morton has to regularly travel to areas north of Brisbane for her job at Harvey Norman in Tweed Heads South.
“I do a lot of training courses, but they are often up north because a lot of our suppliers are Brisbane-based,” she said. “I don't get any of the tax benefits that come with the travel.”
Professor Ian Eddie, director of the Graduate College of Management at SCU says the fuel hike will have far-reaching impacts and drive up food and grocery costs.
“It's going to have a direct impact on everyone's cost of living,” Prof Eddie said. “It's going to be an extra cost in tough economic times. I imagine the cost of food, groceries and other household items will increase as transport companies pass that cost on to consumers.”
Late last year the NSW Government announced it would abolish the fuel subsidy, angering local drivers and businesses who said it would force people across the border to get fuel.
Tony Nash, owner of the BP at Chinderah, says the lack of fuel subsidy in either state will bring Tweed drivers in line with their Queensland counterparts.
“It's an equitable result,” he said. “It's no good that motorists have to pay more for their fuel, but at least it means we're all on the same playing field.”
The spokesman for Mr Roozendaal said the $44 million saved every year on the fuel subsidy would be spent on services like teachers, police and nurses. But he could not confirm whether that included Tweed's frontline services, which is what Member for Tweed Geoff Provest is hoping for.
“The Government must invest this unexpected tax windfall from Tweed residents back into desperately-needed Tweed services, including more funding for The Tweed Hospital, Tweed police, Tweed roads and Tweed schools,” Mr Provest said.