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Media Release


Road Funding: Public Transport Users Condemn Road Lobby 'Lies'

The Public Transport Users Association today condemned the road lobby for peddling "lies" about the administration of the trust fund under the Australian Land Transport Development Act. The Association also condemned politicians and sections of the media for jumping on the road lobby bandwagon.

PTUA President Dr. Paul Mees, a lecturer in transport planning at Melbourne University, said:

"Our Association has been very critical of the Coalition government, on issues such as the GST on public transport, but on this occasion we feel we have to respond to the ridiculous claims being made by the road lobby."

"The trust fund under the Australian Land Transport Development Act is an historical relic that should have been abolished years ago. Transport Minister Anderson - and his predecessors from both parties - deserve criticism for failing to attend to this, but it does not follow that the Commonwealth has under-spent on roads by even one cent."

"A bipartisan Parliamentary committee unanimously recommended in 1997 that the fund be abolished, because it no longer reflected the true basis on which Commonwealth road funding is allocated. All the Labor members of the Committee supported the recommendation and not a peep of protest was heard from the road lobby at the time. The non-abolition of the fund was nothing more than a book-keeping error and it is scandalously dishonest to suggest that the failure to abolish the fund means that there has been an underspending on roads by the Commonwealth."

"The road lobby has been telling lies for years about national road funding as part of a sleazy campaign to have roads funded ahead of more urgent social priorities like health, education and defence. This is just the latest of these misrepresentations."

Questions for Kim Beazley on Pacific Highway Funding

The PTUA also pointed out that Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has jumped aboard the road lobby bandwagon, as part of a push to divert funding under the Roads of National Importance (RONI) scheme to the $1 billion Scoresby Freeway in Melbourne's Eastern suburbs. Dr. Mees said:

"Steve Bracks has been demanding that the Commonwealth divert road funding under the RONI scheme to the Scoresby Freeway and some Victorian-based Federal Labor MPs have been supporting Bracks's call. As Kim Beazley visits the North Coast of NSW, perhaps he could clarify Labor's position on this issue."

"At present, the bulk of RONI funding is allocated to the Pacific Highway upgrade (see Australian National Audit Office report on road funding). If half a billion dollars is diverted to a completely unnecessary suburban freeway in Melbourne, which doesn't even meet the criteria for a RONI, how will the Pacific Highway upgrade be funded?"

PTUA Office 9650 7898

Extracts from Planning not Patching: An Inquiry into Federal road funding, by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications, Transport and Microeconomic Reform, October 1997:

Recommendation 19:
The committee recommends removing the hypothecation provisions from the Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988. Further, the committee recommends that the Commonwealth source future road funding directly from consolidated revenue…

Recommendation 22:
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth revise the Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988:

  • to repeal hypothecation provisions…
    Further, the committee recommends that [the] amendments… be introduced into Parliament during 1998.

The committee considers that the more recent practice of retrospectively setting the fuel excise charge rate to match a predetermined funding level to be somewhat pointless… The main outcome of the more recent application of hypothecation arrangements is to perpetuate the perception witihin the community that a link exists between fuel excise and road funding… such a link is spurious… the money raised from the fuel excise is used to fund a range of government outlays…. (paras. 4.101-102).

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Last Modified: 14 February 2001