NRMA rejects call for toll on Pacific Highway

Motoring group rejects push for the Pacific Highway to be tolled, claiming road users already contribute enough through fuel excise

July 7, 2011

NRMA motoring services has rejected Infrastructure Australia’s proposal to toll the Pacific Highway, saying motorists already contribute billions of dollars through fuel excise tax.

Infrastructure Australia’s Communicating the Imperative for Action report to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) believes motorists should start paying toll on the east coast highways to help complete projects across the country.

NRMA President Wendy Machin says the federal and NSW governments need to work collaboratively and "get on with it" to ensure the upgrade of Pacific Highway to four lanes is completed by the 2016 deadline.

"We are way beyond arguing over funding sources for fixing one of Australia’s most important roads," Machin says.

"Nationally, $13 billion is collected and just $5 billion is reinvested in road and rail transport."

"Cleary, there are other funding avenues such as fuel excise tax revenue – tolling is not the answer.

Infrastructure Australia national coordinator Michael Deegan told ATN there is "no free lunch", saying tolling was needed to help fund the construction of roads across the country.

"Is it fair to leave the community with roads that aren’t finished?" Deegan says.

"That’s the dilemma that we find. People don’t want to pay but they want the improved service.

"I’m sorry but there’s no free lunch. We know the transport industry will debate this but then they won’t have their roads updated and who should pay for that if we live in a community where we don’t want to raise taxes?"

A 2009 NRMA report on the Pacific Highway found that almost 70 percent of Pacific Highway upgrade projects were completed beyond schedule.

"The NRMA doubts the 2016 deadline will be met if funding solutions and dedicated completion dates are not adhered to," Machin says.

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