The Road Ahead : August September 2007
FEATURES 10 AUG/SEP 07 Australia's motoring clubs this month will launch a federal election campaign, seeking commitments from political par ties to achieving safer drivers in safer vehicles on safer roads. The RACQ and other members of the Australian Automobile Association will also promote the economic and environmental benefits of greater commonwealth investment in the countr y's road network, as well reforming motoring taxes to better reflect actual road use. Road funding Welcoming the Federal Government's $22.3 billion commitment to the second AusLink land transpor t program between 2009 and 2017, RACQ chief executive Ian Gillespie said the Club still wanted to see what the Opposition was proposing to invest in improving the efficiency and safety of Australia's roads. "We par ticularly want to hear from both the Coalition and Labor exactly what they will spend on Queensland's roads -- and where," Mr Gillespie said. "It's wor th noting that, while the $22.3 billion offered by the Federal Government has to be divided not only between the eight states and territories but also between road and rail, RACQ's conser vative estimate for bringing the highway component of the National Network in Queensland alone to an adequate standard is more than $14 billion. "After several decades of neglecting our major highways by successive federal administrations, we're looking for some significant 'catch up' funding for Queensland and, impor tantly, maintenance of the real value of Commonwealth funding right through to 2014 to help counteract construction cost increases." Fairer charges While the motoring clubs wanted to see at least 12 cents of the current 38.1 cents a litre fuel excise directed to roads investment, Mr Gillespie said increasing community concerns about climate change also made the time right for federal and state governments to star t working together towards reform of motoring taxes and charges. He said motorists should pay more equitably and transparently for the costs their motor vehicle use imposed on the community. "Ultimately, we'd like to see the current excise replaced by a range of road user charges that covered not only the cost of providing and maintaining roads but also the costs of environmental impact, crashes and congestion according to how, when and where each motorist actually used the network," he said. "That would lead to less urban traffic congestion, provide dedicated funding in such areas as roads, environment and health -- and, in many instances, lower motoring costs for families, especially in regional areas." Environment Mr Gillespie said the RACQ and other motoring clubs stood ready to par tner the next Federal Government in specific programs to address greenhouse emissions from private motor vehicle use. However, motorists should not be required to carr y a dispropor tionate share of the emissions abatement burden and more fuel-efficient cars and effective traffic congestion management needed to form par t of the government's approach. With Australia lagging well behind its National Road Safety Strategy target of a 40 percent reduction in the rate of road deaths, motoring organisations would also seek a greater federal effor t in encouraging the development of safer drivers and the availability of safer cars. "We're asking all par ties to commit to providing suppor t for family-oriented programs that help learner drivers receive adequate super vised experience behind the wheel," Mr Gillespie said. "We also want the next government to help ensure that ever y new car sold in Australia has at least the same level of such safety features as airbags and electronic stability control as equivalent overseas models. "This is an impor tant area of road safety in which Australian motorists are generally being shor t-changed." Federal push The RACQ is putting roads, safety and the environment on the election agenda. The long-awaited Tugun Bypass is being constructed with federal and state funding.
June July 2007
October November 2007