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ALC says nations Treasuries must push road reform

Change sought eight years ago remains bogged and need push from new direction


The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) believes the nations Treasurers and their departments must press the case for road charging to get the reform proposal out of its rut.

Noting South Australian premier Jay Weatherill will enter this week’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) leaders retreat armed with a mass distance location (MDL) charging proposal, ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff says the plan requires serious consideration by all levels of government.

Kilgariff notes the blueprint echoes similar calls for reform made in recent times by the Productivity Commission, Infrastructure Australia, the Harper Review and the National Commission of Audit.

These and other reports also flagged the concept of extending the heavy vehicle road reform, over time, to all vehicles, to send a more direct price signal and to help address congestion in our cities.

But Kilgariff warns that the transport and logistics industry must be convinced of the all-round benefits.

“Industry’s support for this reform will hinge on the extent to which it supports supply chain efficiency and reliability,” he says.

“It is critical, however, that funds collected are invested in the infrastructure used by the vehicle. In other words, the revenue follows the freight, and not lost to consolidated revenue.”

Given that COAG has failed to advance the idea since April 2007, when it set out a three-phase COAG Road Reform Plan to consider alternative models of heavy vehicle road pricing and funding, Kilgariff nominates government counting houses as the delivery vehicle.

 “For this initiative to succeed, Treasuries need to drive the process forward. Not only will it be quicker, it will be more effective if part of a broader set of reforms to change the infrastructure revenue stream,” he says.

“And importantly, having Treasuries take carriage of this initiative will help to ensure a greater level of national coordination.

“This is important, because in the long run, road reform needs to be national, it needs to be consistent and it needs to be coherent.”

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