More Patching, No Planning for Roads in Budget
The Australian Automobile Association has expressed disappointment at the road funding arrangements announced in tonight’s federal budget.
The national motoring body’s Executive Director, Lauchlan McIntosh, said the meagre increase in road grants to the states, territories and local government had been cancelled out by reductions in funding for other road categories.
Mr McIntosh said, "The cut in expenditure on the National Highway System is particularly bewildering as it flies in the face of one of the key findings of a House of Representatives inquiry into federal road funding chaired by the Minister for Transport, Mark Vaile.
"Recommendation 15 of the inquiry’s report, Planning Not Patching, released in October last year specifically calls for the National Highway System to be expanded to include other roads of national importance, accompanied by a commensurate increase in funding."
Mr McIntosh said the Government had had ample time to address this and other inquiry recommendations in tonight’s budget.
"Presumably, they will be incorporated in the forthcoming tax reform package, which should also include:
· the introduction of a road user charge, to be paid into a road corporation to finance the construction and maintenance of roads and other costs associated with their use; and
· the replacement of the regressive fuel excise regime with a GST or sales tax at the standard rate applying to other goods and services.
"The encouragement offered in the budget for the building of more privately owned toll roads suggests the Government recognises the inadequacy of the existing road network. Motorists, however, should not be required to pay twice for them through the fuel excise and tolls," Mr McIntosh said.