Fuel excise fills govt coffers, as Albo goes on the attack

Trucking operators play big role in filling government coffers, as transport minister accuses Opposition of neglecting road investment

By Brad Gardner | November 26, 2009

Trucking operators have played a big role in filling government coffers, with a new report on road funding showing the fuel excise made up 56 percent of taxes and charges.

Figures released by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) show government collected $16.2 billion in revenue in 2006-07, with the fuel excise contributing $9.1 billion.

State and territory governments raised $3.9 billion from registration fees, according to the report, with stamp duty raising $2 billion.

"Of the total amount of revenue collected in 2006-07 from these selected taxes and charges, 56 percent was from petroleum products excise duty," the report says.

The Rudd Government has used the figures to launch an attack on the Opposition, accusing it of failing to use revenue to invest in the road network.

"At the very time record tax revenues were rolling into the Treasury and pressure on the road network was growing significantly, the previous government cut the annual federal roads budget from $4.3 billion (2005-06) to $2.7 billion (2007-08)," Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese says.

He says road spending between 2005 and 2007 declined by almost 40 percent.

Figures released by the BITRE show federal spending declined from $4.25 billion in 2005-06 to $2.77 billion in 2006-07 and $2.72 billion the following year.

"These latest revelations about the Howard Government should surprise no one. Their record was one of too little investment in the nation’s vital infrastructure," Albanese says.

However, the BITRE also says total road-related expenditure increased by an average of 8.2 percent between 2000-01 and 2007-08.

The office of opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss has questioned why the Government has used the one-off $4.25 billion as a reference point for accusing the Coalition of underinvestment.

A spokesman for Truss says there is an upward trend in road spending from 2000-01 to 2007-08 when the figure is excluded.

He also accused the Government of playing politics by delaying Coalition projects such as the Bruce Highway upgrade from Cooroy to Curra and the F3 extension to Branxton in the Hunter Valley.

"There were a lot of holds put on a whole series of projects," the spokesman says.

"That amount of money disappeared."

According to the BITRE, road funding will increase to an average of $4.6 billion each year from 2008-09 to 2013-14 under the Rudd Government’s Nation Building Program.

The BITRE says Queensland and New South Wales invested more than any other state or territory on their road networks in 2007-08.

Queensland accounted for 32 percent of the total state and territory expenditure of $13.9 billion, while NSW accounted for 29 percent.

Western Australia made up 16 percent of total expenditure, with Victoria making up 15 percent.

Excluding private sector contributions, the states and territories spent more than $7 billion on roads in 2007-08, dwarfing the federal spend.

"Total spending by the states and territories increased 200 percent to $7.3 billion; spending by councils and shires also rose, up 55 percent," Albanese says.

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