Govt to launch road user charge inquiry in 2017


Additional plans to examine barriers and growth opportunities to improve freight and supply chain network

Govt to launch road user charge inquiry in 2017
The federal government will continue to examine the Infrastructure Priority List as part of its infrastructure project assessment process.

 

The federal government says there is need for further investigation on road user charging to identify a more equitable approach that charges users, not taxpayers.

This is one of the 69 recommendations that the government "supports" in response to the first 15-year Australian Infrastructure Plan.

The government has also "noted" six other recommendations out of Infrastructure Australia (IA’s) total 78 recommendations in its response report published today. 

The federal government says it is working with state and territory governments to implement these recommendations, including speeding up heavy vehicle reform and find out the benefits, costs and options to implement "cost reflective road pricing for all vehicles".

"Phase One of the Heavy Vehicle Road Reform is now complete, and is delivering improved transparency around road expenditure, investment and service delivery through the publication of heavy vehicle infrastructure asset registers and expenditure plans," the report states.

"The Australian Government will progress next steps for heavy vehicle reform with states and territories through the development of a forward looking cost base; and a discussion paper to inform consultation on options for an independent price regulator."

The government plans to launch an independent investigation next year into the potential benefits and impacts of road user charging for light vehicles on road users.

The government will also undertake an independent inquiry to examine regulatory and investment barriers as well as opportunities to improve productivity and efficiency of the freight and supply chain network.

The inquiry will find out ways to "improve the capacity and reduce the costs of transporting goods through our major national container ports, airports and intermodal terminals".

The government states that the findings of this inquiry will help in the development of a long-term national freight and supply chain strategy for reform and investment.

Future capital and investment

The federal government also plans to promote its asset recycling initiative, which allows sale of government-owned assets to private companies to unlock capital that can be redirected to other infrastructure projects.

The government says, so far, the initiative has "provided for considerable additional investment into productivity enhancing infrastructure, especially urban transport", making a case for "innovative" financing schemes and increased private sector involvement in the future.

"Government budgets cannot, and should not, fund all infrastructure projects," it states.

"The cost of transport projects should be shared between those who benefit the most from the projects and the broader Australian community."

The report also highlights government’s plan to promote the concept of value capture to fund key transport infrastructure needed for the future.

"Value capture can provide for a more efficient and equitable approach to infrastructure development and delivery; and stimulate a better linkage between the infrastructure needed and the broader planning environment," it states.

Last week, the government released a discussion paper seeking feedback from state and territory government, industry and other stakeholders in this matter.

The government reiterates its commitment to improve safety and regional connectivity and remove congestion on the roads through $50 billion investment in ongoing projects such:

  • National Black Spot Program
  • Northern Australia’s Beef Roads Program
  • WestConnex motorway scheme in Sydney
  • Inland Rail between Melbourne and Brisbane.

The reports states the government will continue to examine the Infrastructure Priority List as part of its infrastructure project assessment process. 

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