Direct charging vital for local road network, say councils

Introduction of direct user charges on Australian roads 200 years overdue and vital for local roads, councils say

Direct charging vital for local road network, say councils
Direct charging vital for local road network, say councils
The introduction of direct user charges on Australian Roads is 200 years overdue and needs to be introduced to council-owned roads as soon as possible, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) says.

ALGA President Geoff Lake says it is vital local councils are consulted over any change to the system of charging motorists and heavy vehicles for road use.

A report submitted to Treasury Secretary Ken Henry as part of a review of tax regulations recommends a system of GPS-based direct charging for motorists and a move to mass/distance-based charging for trucks.

"Any move to begin charging for the use of the road network and linking future funding to road use is critically important to local government," Lake says.

"There is currently no linkage between the use of local roads and road funding. Local roads are funded from rates levied on land holders and from ad hoc additional government grants which are mainly provided by the Federal Government.

"The current arrangements for funding the vast bulk of Australia’s road system have not changed from the 19th century when local government grew out of local roads."

The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) meanwhile is taking a different stance over the Henry Tax Review commissioned proposal, saying the plan is nothing more than an "ivory tower" aimed at raising revenue.

"The Henry tax review is meant to be about a fair tax regime, and this grossly unfair tax proposal should be rejected by Government," AAA Chief Executive Mike Harris says.

"Motorists already pay more than their fair share of taxes and charges, including excise which sees only one third going back into the road network – and two thirds going to pay for other government services.

"The suggestion to increase excise as a source of revenue and introduce a road user charge system as well, which is contained in a consultant's report commissioned as part of the Henry Review, is an insult to the community and makes public discussion of a sensible charging regime more difficult."

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) target="_blank">has recommended a fuel-based charging scheme, with registration fees reduced. This would create a revenue pool which could be drawn on by local councils, the association says.

Related stories:
  • NatRoad backs fuel charging, but bureaucrats push direct

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