Councils seek share of road tax revenue

By Staff Writer

Local government has called on the Commonwealth to include local roads in any future road and transport tax reform.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) said it wants to be “closely involved” in any future user charges for travel on its roads.

ALGA president Geoff Lake voiced the sector’s concerns following the release of a report commissioned by the Henry Tax Review.

The report by Professor Harry Clarke and David Prentice examined how best to charge for and fund transport services in Australia.
Cr Lake said local government generally supported a key priciple recommended in the report – that road use should be directly linked to charging and funding.

“Future reform that more directly links funding of local roads to their usage would be welcomed by local government,” he said.

“Local government is responsible for more than 80 percent of the total Australian road system and road maintenance costs are the single biggest expenditure item for most councils.

“Any move to begin charging for the use of the road network and linking future funding to road use is critically important to local government.”

Cr Lake said there was currently no connection between the use of local roads and road funding.

“The current arrangements for funding the vast bulk of Australia’s road system have not changed from the nineteenth century when local government grew out of local road boards,” he said.

“Times have now moved on and so must outdated road funding and taxation arrangements.”

He called on the Commonwealth and the state and territory governments to consider the feasibility of user charging for roads “to ease the burden on Australian ratepayers”.

COAG has agreed to move forward on developing a pricing system based on user charges for heavy vehicles, but ALGA said it must equally apply to local roads.

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