Hockey climbs aboard road user charging wagon

Razor gang eyes the NTC review and privatisation of Moorebank and ARTC

Hockey climbs aboard road user charging wagon
Joe Hockey has much to ponder in report


Treasurer Joe Hockey's National Commission of Audit has joined other advisory bodies in backing road user charging.

The commission, in its Towards Responsible Government report, believes there is significant scope to expand road-user charging, particularly for heavy vehicles, to reduce congestion and increase funding from those that directly benefit from road use.

"The Commission recommends that the Commonwealth work with the States to develop mass-distance-location charging reforms," the report says.

"Over time, these reforms should be extended to universal road user charging for all vehicles to the maximum extent possible."

The commission recommends a review of the National Transport Commission to determine whether the body should continue or cease operations.

Scoping studies of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and Moorebank Intermodal Company should be undertaken with a view to privatisation.

"There is significant capital locked up in Commonwealth commercial or semi-commercial businesses and bodies that could be put to better use if private ownership is suitable," the report states.

"The Commonwealth currently holds around $13 billion of equity in government business enterprises."

It adds: "Planning should also consider whether a privatised entity should have ongoing community service obligations where businesses operate with cross subsidies, such as Australia Post and the Australian Rail Track Corporation."

The Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme and ethanol production subsidies should be abolished, it advises, because it falls into a category where "there is already State funding, or where the States are clearly responsible for the function".

Small Business Advisory Services would go, though a new small business ombudsman’s office is on the way.

Several bodies in the Employment Portfolio could be consolidated into the Department of Employment: the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency; Comcare, including the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission and the Seafarers’ Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Authority; Safe Work Australia; and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

The full report can be found here.

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