New Roads Program Welcomed
The Australian Automobile Association has welcomed the announcement of the new Commonwealth roads programs today and expressed the hope that it would be the start of a more strategic, long-term approach to road funding.
AAA Executive Director, Lauchlan McIntosh, said it is important that there is good regional cooperation to ensure the most effective use of the resources now available.
"No one would deny that our road system urgently needs substantial investment. The Prime Minister has talked at length about the need for infrastructure renewal," Mr. McIntosh said.
"The AAA agrees and believed any serious road-funding program needs two elements - a long-term strategic approach, and a funding commitment that goes beyond just maintaining the road network.
"Real benefits in reducing the road toll flow from road investment and with Governments now committed to a 40% reduction in fatalities by 2010, substantial road investment would be needed over the next decade.
"The motoring clubs have been campaigning strongly on behalf of their members for three things from the Commonwealth Government -
- Relief from higher petrol prices through a freeze on excise in February;
- Review and reform of the current fuel tax system; and
- Additional road funding from both urban and regional projects.
"The Government has now commenced delivering on one of those three important elements and that is very welcome. The Government needs to understand, however, that this package does not compensate motorists for the extra tax they have been forced to pay since the introduction of the GST.
"If the February indexation goes ahead, motorists will be paying four cents more in excise in this first year of the GST. Four cents may not seem a lot but it will give the Commonwealth an extra $1.36 billion per year in revenue. To put that in perspective, the two programs announced today (total $1.6 billion over four years) will cost the Commonwealth $400 million per year.
"The AAA and the State and Territory motoring clubs will continue to campaign strongly on behalf of their members for relief from high fuel prices. We will continue to argue for a freeze on excise in February and for reform of the current fuel tax system," Mr. McIntosh concluded.