AAA Welcomes AusLink Plan
The Australian Automobile Association has welcomed the shift to a more strategic long-term approach to transport infrastructure outlined in the AusLink plan announced by Transport Minister, John Anderson, last night.
AAA Executive Director, Lauchlan McIntosh, said the AAA had been campaigning for adoption of a number of the proposals that are contained in the AusLink paper.
"We have been calling for a long-term transport infrastructure development plan and a national body to develop and oversee that plan for some time and are pleased that Mr. Anderson has adopted this approach," Mr. McIntosh said.
"Other aspects of the plan that are welcome include funding for Intelligent Transport System (ITS) projects, which have the potential to address many of the problems confronting us, and a more transparent decision-making process.
"While it is important that there should be a single land transport policy and strategic approach, more consideration will need to be given to the proposed shift to a single land transport funding model.
"At present road users are the sole contributors to consolidated revenue through fuel taxation (excise). The submission AAA put to the recent Fuel Taxation Inquiry addresses this issue through a shift from excise to a user pays principle across all forms of land transport. We would like to see fuel taxation reform addressed as part of the AusLink plan.
"We also support redefinition of the National Highway System (NHS) and reform of associated funding, but believe the Commonwealth should first complete the current network. The Government’s own figures show that funding for the NHS has been falling behind by around $200 million per year for at least five years and this backlog needs to be addressed before any substantial reforms in this area are undertaken.
"The AusLink plan as outlined in the Minister’s speech does seem to be freight oriented when government figures indicate that urban car travel will also increase dramatically (by 30 per cent) over the next 12 years. We therefore believe that as major infrastructure users with a substantial interest in future infrastructure provision, motorists should be represented on any advisory body established to develop and oversee a national infrastructure plan.
"Finally the Minister’s decision to undertake an extensive consultation process, including the development of a Green Paper, is very welcome and AAA looks forward to participating in a constructive manner in this important task," Mr. McIntosh concluded.