Fixing the Nation's Roads a "Necessary Expense" for $7.5 Billion Surplus
The Australian Automobile Association has welcomed the Treasurer's undertaking that there would only be tax cuts if there was any money left over from the $7.5 billion after 'meeting necessary expenses'.
The Executive Director of the AAA, Lauchlan McIntosh, said that there could be few higher priorities or more necessary expenses than fixing the nation's road infrastructure.
"The very detailed National Road Safety Strategy, endorsed by the Australian Government and all States and Territories, estimates that improved road infrastructure has the potential to save 332 lives every year," Mr. McIntosh said.
"Over 200,000 people are injured on our roads each year, some 22,000 of them seriously, requiring long-term care and rehabilitation. These crashes result in massive costs right across the economy, to social welfare, health and emergency service budgets, and to the workplace, home life and national productivity.
"The Commonwealth's Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics estimates that road crashes cost the community a total of $15 billion per annum. Reducing these costs to so many areas is clearly a "necessary expense".
"Yet despite these measurable benefits from investment in road infrastructure, less and less money in real terms is being spent on our roads. The Government's own figures from the Department of Transport, in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry, show that there has been a funding shortfall of between $200 and $300 million per annum for the national highway alone," he said.
"Recent work by Dr. Vince FitzGerald of the Allen Consulting Group shows the value of economically viable unfunded road projects in Australia at over $10 billion, with benefit cost ratios of up to 5:1 for many of these projects.
"Investing to make roads safer and more forgiving has clear economic and social benefits for all of us. That is why we must not let our road infrastructure fall further behind. We cannot afford the unnecessary continued loss of hundreds of lives and the trauma of thousands of injuries.
"The Government has a $7.5 billion surplus. Investing some of that surplus in additional programs to create safer roads would provide enormous benefits to the community, business and the economy. It is an important, vital and necessary investment," Mr. McIntosh said.