Local government president calls for road pricing reform

Australian Local Government Association President calls for reform to road funding arrangements to ensure local roads receive the necessary funding needed to keep pace with the needs of freight transport

The President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), Geoff Lake, has called for reform to Australia’s road funding arrangements to ensure that local roads receive the necessary funding needed to keep pace with the needs of freight transport across the country.

Speaking at the Australian Roads Summit ’09 in Brisbane on March 5, Lake told delegates that local government’s ability to support future road transport productivity reforms would depend on creating new funding sources such as through the introduction of incremental pricing.

"Local government supports the need for road funding reform and that is why we support the introduction of incremental pricing. The Commonwealth and the states should now get on with finalising the concept and commencing trials", he says.

Incremental pricing is a Council of Australian Government (COAG) initiative being developed by the National Transport Commission whereby a truck operator is able to buy additional weight on a truck above the legally allowed limit.

"Trials for incremental pricing were agreed between the states and the Commonwealth government two years ago but they are still yet to begin. It is time for them to get on with the job. This is an important micro-economic reform and has significant implications for local councils and local communities," he says.

"We hope that incremental pricing is a stepping stone towards full road pricing for heavy vehicles in order to take some of the increasing road funding burden off ratepayers.

"The concept behind incremental pricing for roads is simple – the price the truck operator pays reflects the damage to the road pavement and bridges caused by the additional mass.

"Local councils manage more than 80 percent of Australia’s road system but have no guaranteed funding source except council rates revenue which is severely stretched meeting other responsibilities."

Lake also used his speech to remind the Federal Government of the need of many rural councils to replace ageing and decaying timber bridges and to renew ALGA’s call for a funding program aimed specifically at restoring country bridges.

"Funding for a bridge renewal program would boost local employment and complement the current economic stimulus measures being rolled out. Most importantly, it would expand Australia’s productive capacity and ensure that local communities remain accessible places for trucks, residents and visitors alike," he says.

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