Political squabbling hits SA tolls issue

Libs back charge on trucks but Government won’t discuss them at all, despite industry position

Political squabbling hits SA tolls issue
Vickie Chapman: open to charging trucks


The South Australian transport and logistics industry may want a mature debate on tolls to pay for road infrastructure but the issue remains a political football.

The South Australian Freight Council (SAFC) and the SA Road Transport Association (SARTA) have been vocal recently and longer term on the need for considered debate, especially given the SA Government’s lack of funds.

They were supported publically in this last week by the Australian Logistics Council (ALC).

But the State’s political classes either want tolls only paid by industry, the Liberal Opposition’s stance, or no tolls at all, the Government’s position, particularly in relation to the North-South Corridor.

In the political sphere, discussion is marked by squabbling rather than debate, with Opposition transport spokeswoman Vickie Chapman saying changed Federal circumstances mean the State will miss out on cash if alternative financing options are not found, while State transport minister Stephen Mullighan has accused the Opposition of back-flipping.

 "Introducing a toll for trucks is the first step towards charging everyday motorists to use Adelaide’s roads," Mullighan quoted Chapman as saying before the election.

"When it comes to road infrastructure that means user pays, and user pays means tolls."

He reiterated his government’s populist stance, saying: "Interstate experience shows not only are tolls loathed by motorists, they often simply don’t work."

In his speech to the South Australian Major Projects Conference, ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff urged the State Government to rethink.

"ALC would support tolling to support the development of major infrastructure projects, such as the Northern Connector, but only if it delivers an increase in efficiency and reliability of the delivery of freight," Kilgariff says.

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