Road use charges: the ‘spectre’ of CRRP

Just because you haven’t heard ever galah carrying on about ‘mass distance location’ (MDL) charging for the last few months, don’t imagine that the COAG Road Reform Plan has gone dead.

In fact, a report containing proposals on ‘what to do next’ is going to be discussed by the Prime Minister and all the Premiers around March next year. Industry hasn’t seen the report, but we have a few ideas about what it might say, and what it does not say.

Last year, our Association pushed our way on to the official ‘Industry Advisory Group’ that was given some limited opportunities to have an impact on what the report might say. (We weren’t invited on back in 2010, but that’s a story for another day)

Together with the ALC and ATA, we had complete success in ‘keeping fuel alive’ as an option for a new charging system.

We also gained a formal written commitment that none of the genuinely poisonous prices that had been floated by government as one possible way of doing ‘MDL’ were going to be recommended to the Prime Minister. These were the so-called ‘indicative prices’.

(We were the only Association which asked for that commitment, in writing, from the Chairman of the CRRP Project Board. And getting it in writing has allowed President Beer to write to the PM this week and ask for a written confirmation that she’s not holding a report that includes any recommendation that includes any of those objectionable ‘indicative prices’.)

Together with the ALC and ATA, we’ve had a lot of success in getting the report to COAG to focus on the changes that need to happen inside road agencies, and inside the rest of government.

But that certainly doesn’t mean this issue is all finished and done.

In the last two months, our Association has had some conversations with some of the high level players in Canberra about this issue. This week, National Council has directed me to write a submission to the PM, Federal Treasurer and the Premiers on what we’d like to see happen next March. The hard work has scarcely begun.

… NSW initiates a Parliamentary enquiry into road use charging

People sometime forget that the COAG Road Reform Plan was kicked off by Prime Minister Howard. Prime Ministers Rudd and Gillard have merely kept it going.

The simple fact is that every government, of every colour, is interested in finding a way to make the transport system work better. And they just keep coming back to the idea that changes to the road use charging system will have to be part of that.

A simple demonstration of how widespread is the desire to make changes to road charging has come from NSW.

Just a few days ago, the NSW Legislative Assembly resolved to hold a public inquiry into ‘the development and implementation of a road access pricing strategy’.

It will look at ‘equitable charging for road access based on actual costs, time of day and road wear’ and ‘generating sustainable levels of income for maintenance of, and investment in, the transport network.’

Members with long-memories will readily recall that NSW has ‘form’ on going it alone on charging issues. Remember the weight tax? NSW Treasury certainly does.

Most of our members travel in and out of NSW as part of their business.

It’s no surprise that this week, National Council instructed me to add this Inquiry to the work list for summer!

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