Report Highlights Need for Increased Commonwealth Funding
The Australian Automobile Association has used the release of a report by Dr Vince FitzGerald of the Allen Consulting Group to renew calls for additional Commonwealth road funding. The report was released at a CEDA luncheon in Sydney today.
The Executive Director of the AAA, Lauchlan McIntosh, recognised that Transport Minister John Anderson also accepted the need for additional funding and said he hoped the report would assist Minister Anderson in convincing his Cabinet colleagues of that need.
The report, entitled Benefits of Public Investment in the Nation's Road Infrastructure updates a major study conducted by Dr FitzGerald for the AAA a decade ago. At that time he found that the road network was in need of significant investment and that the capacity of road stock had not kept pace with economic growth – reflected in rising congestion and other costs which acted as a brake on growth rather than facilitating growth.
His latest report has found that it is still the case that investment has not matched need and that there is a backlog of potentially high yielding projects. He also finds that annual spending on roads by the Commonwealth and Local Government has not changed substantially over the past decade.
The report finds that investment in road infrastructure can deliver substantial benefits in terms of reduced travel times, congestion costs, vehicle operating costs and crashes. Reductions in these are benefits of land transport infrastructure, not costs, as has seemingly been indicated in the Commonwealth's recent AUSLINK Green Paper.
The report identifies a number of projects which would deliver substantial economic and other benefits to Australia. For example the road user benefit cost ratio of the Western Sydney Orbital is estimated at 2.2.
Other strategic road investments with high benefit cost ratios include the Pacific Highway upgrade, the F3 (Newcastle Freeway) to the future Western Sydney Orbital, the Scoresby corridor (which has a benefit cost ratio of 5:1 – that is for an investment of $1 billion Australia will receive benefits approaching $5 billion) - the Deer Park Bypass, also in Victoria, and the Ipswich Motorway and the Barkly Highway in Queensland.
The report goes on to argue the case for Governments to continue investing in roads. It states that given the wide spreading of the benefits and costs of what is largely a public road network, it is appropriate that there continue to be a substantial public role, including substantial ongoing public investment.
The report is available on the AAA web site at www.aaa.asn.au.