NatRoad supports call for focus on infrastructure investment
CALLS by eminent economists for Australia to invest more in infrastructure is supported by the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad).
"NatRoad especially supports the call for infrastructure investment to be properly evaluated by an independent agency or agencies," NatRoad chief executive officer Warren Clark said.
"What is urgently needed is the establishment of a regulator who has control over the way tolled roads are planned, built and operated.
"At present, the process of deciding which roads should be tolled and how they are integrated into the road system is poorly planned.
"The setting up of an independent price regulator for heavy vehicles is long overdue and is an essential step in maintaining the long term viability and productivity of the road freight transport industry.
"Independent price regulation should aim to replace the current charging system that funds road construction which is a fuel based road user charge, administered as a reduction in fuel tax credits, and registration charges.
"An independent pricing regulator must possess a broad regulatory role including regulating and monitoring toll fees and landside port charges, given the current lack of transparency and fairness in setting tolls and landside port charges for heavy vehicles.
"The regulator must be empowered to solve the following issues with toll roads that three Parliamentary inquiries have failed to address:
- the lack of transparency and fairness in setting toll fees for heavy vehicles
- the lack of competition in private toll road operation
- heavy vehicle operators paying for road network improvements through increases in tolls without experiencing the promised efficiencies, and
- governments forcing heavy vehicles to use tolled roads by banning them from alternative routes.
"Infrastructure spending is vital for the health of the Australian economy and for a viable road transport industry."