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Government MP says: user-pays for trucks, then cars

Federal MP urges switch to new charging system for roads, starting with the trucking industry and then general motorists.


Support for a shake-up of road user charges has come from within the Federal Government, with one MP backing the introduction of a move to a new user-pays system.

Liberal MP Angus Taylor, who represents the electorate of Hume in New South Wales, wants a new charging model in line with what a review of Australia’s competition policy has recommended.

He says a user-pays framework, which would charge each road user individually based on where they are travelling and time of day, should be applied to trucking and then progressively extended to all motorists.

“Moving towards true user charges – something that has been floated in the last 24 hours by Ian Harper, leading the competition review – would allow us to drop the fuel excise, registration fees and traditional road tolls as we embrace a system that better reflects the cost of the vehicle to road maintenance and construction,” Taylor says.

“These changes will not and should not happen overnight or in one hit. We should start with heavy vehicles on targeted roads, and I am confident that we will see that from some states in the very near future.”

Taylor is critical of the existing set-up built on registration fees and the fuel excise because the money raised does not go directly into road investment. He says a user-pays system should also guarantee money goes back to the road owner.

“At the moment the owner of the road is not directly paid for their role in building and maintaining that road, whether it is the local council or the state government or even the federal government. I think we should be doing that. To me, this is the single most important principle we could apply,” he says.

The review of Australia’s competition policy recommended road users be individually charged based on their location, time of travel and congestion.

The review’s findings are contained in the Competition Policy Review Draft Report, which says pricing under the new framework should be linked to road construction, maintenance and safety costs.

Like Taylor, the review wants revenue raised to be poured directly back into road investment.

In its official response, the Federal Government says it welcomes the release of the report.

“The review focuses on improving outcomes for Australians, by making markets work in the long term interests of consumers,” small business minister Bruce Billson says.

“This is a draft report prepared by the independent expert panel based on input and analysis to date. It needs to be thoroughly tested via further public consultations before final recommendations are made by the review panel.”

The review panel, which Harper chairs, will deliver a final report to the Federal Government in March next year following a series of public consultation sessions.

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