Bigger the car, bigger the cost

By Adam Coleman

Inner-city councils are being encouraged to make owners of fuel-inefficient cars pay more for their parking as part of a popular scheme introduced by North Sydney Council.

North Sydney mayor Genia McCaffery is using her role as the president of the NSW Local Government Association (LGSA) to urge councils to address climate change through schemes such as North Sydney’s parking permit scheme, which also rewards owners of more fuel efficient cars with a cheaper parking permit.

According to Cr McCaffery, the scheme has had huge support since its introduction and aligns well with the recommendation of The Stern Report on Climate Change “that pricing policy must incorporate the costs of carbon emissions”.

“A lot of people hate four wheel drives so you have that passion in the community – people either love them or hate them. The second issue is linking, is it appropriate for government to link carbon emissions issues to pricing policies?" she says,

North Sydney Council uses the Federal Government’s Green Vehicle Guide to gauge a vehicle’s environmental impact. Cr McCaffery says it is a “revenue neutral” initiative with all revenue from the permits to pay for the costs of running the scheme.

“Climate change is the agenda item for [the LGSA] this year. We are moving very strongly on that issue. It will be the central issue we are dealing with at the conference this year at Coffs Harbour and it will be part of a range of policies that I will be advocating that councils look at,” she says.
“I want to encourage councils to engage with their communities in discussing the issues and then with their communities saying ‘what are the ways we want to deal with this’ and actually have it as a conversation.”

With the drought, the recent releases of the Stern Report and the climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Cr McCaffery says that councils have an opportunity to provide real leadership on the issue.

“[They are] three things that are happening now that are really raising the issue in the community and people want to be advised about what they can do," she says.

Other NSW councils have expressed interest in the resident parking scheme, with Leichhardt Council suggesting it will look at implementing a similar scheme this year.

North Sydney Council collected about $175,000 as part of the scheme last financial year.

“The key way we will make real fundamental changes is by education and actually engaging our communities in the process, but it shouldn’t be us imposing things on the community before they are ready to do it,” Cr McCaffery says.

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