“Ethanol won’t stop petrol prices going up”, government told.
Transport user groups around Australia have called on the federal government to provide an escape from rising petrol prices by upgrading public transport. Prime Minister John Howard has been urged to make an enduring investment in public transport infrastructure by groups from NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
“Mr Howard has described petrol prices as the greatest worry of his political life,” said Action for Public Transport (NSW) spokesman Allan Miles. “Fortunately tried and true technology is available to ease the pain. Mr Howard can be part of the solution by funding public transport upgrades and reducing our oil dependence.”
“Over the past 30 years in the US, ethanol has been more expensive than petrol. The greater use of it in Australian petrol will just push up food prices (and hence inflation) as well as speed up the clearing of forested land here and overseas” said Sustainable Transport Coalition (WA) Convenor, Dr David Worth.
“Cutting petrol tax is like bailing out a sinking ship with a teaspoon,” added Public Transport Users Association (Vic) President Daniel Bowen. “In the face of limited oil supplies and accelerating climate change, the only sustainable response is to provide real alternatives to car use.” In a submission to the Senate petrol price inquiry, the PTUA has called on all tiers of government to “expand the coverage and quality of urban and regional public transport as a matter of priority”.
“The price of oil is unlikely ever to return to levels of a few years ago,” said Margaret Dingle, spokeswoman for People for Public Transport (SA). “Transferring a large proportion of urban travel to public transport (with relief for country people without access to public transport) can minimise the impact of rising oil prices and reduce climate change. Federal Governments have been ready to allocate vast sums of money to road building while leaving the States to foot the entire bill for public transport,” Ms Dingle said.
“We’d like some Auslink funds allocated to public transport or a revival of the Better Cities Program, and more favourable taxation treatment of public transport as a fringe benefit,” said Ms Dingle.
“A 10c excise cut would cost $3 billion each and every year, but any savings for motorists would be quickly eaten up by further oil price rises,” warned Mr Bowen. “That money would buy a huge amount of public transport infrastructure and provide real and lasting alternatives to car dependence.”
Contacts: PTUA Office (03) 9650 7898 / mediaptua.org.au