NSW tax grab one-way traffic: Truss

By: Jason Whittaker

New South Wales transport operators will be forced to pay "an outrageous tax grab" but will receive nothing in return,

New South Wales transport operators will be forced to pay "an outrageous tax grab" but will receive nothing in return, according to the federal Coalition.

Opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss has criticised the Rees Government for increasing toll charges on a time-of-day basis while simultaneously slashing key road and rail projects.

He says someone travelling from the north west of Sydney to the airport will be charged $22 in tolls but the money will not be returned to funding vital upgrades, such as those on the Pacific Highway.

"One of the worst black spots in the state, at Banora Point near the Queensland border, will now not be upgraded for many years," Truss says.

"A true congestion charge would try to change traveller’s behaviour and fund alternatives. But this outrageous tax grab was made at the same time as Labor axed a series of major road and rail projects," Truss says.

Truss has also raised concerns the Government will expand its congestion charge to other motorways beyond Sydney despite the fact no modelling is available to measure the impact.

The Opposition this week used comments made by a Labor senator to raise concerns other Labor states may follow the NSW Government’s lead.

Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate Stephen Conroy says the decision to introduce time-of-day charges "is a welcome step to address urban congestion in one of Australia’s major cities".

According to Truss, this means families and businesses in other cities have plenty to fear.

Time-of-day charges will be introduced for the Harbour Bridge and Tunnel tolls.

Motorists will be hit with a $4 charge in peak periods and $2.50 in off-peak times. This is forecast to generate $12 million in revenue in 2011-12.

"The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Harbour Tunnel will become the first motorways in Australia to switch to time-of-day tolling," Treasurer Eric Roozendaal says.

The decision to defer Pacific Highway projects at Banora Point and Tintenbar to Ewingsdale will save $165 million to government coffers.

The Government will also scrap the northern NSW fuel subsidy that has allowed the region's trucking businesses to compete with cross-border companies benefiting from Queensland's 8.35 cents per litre subsidy.

The decision is expected to save $1.7 million.

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