The time has come for some serious thinking to take place about the problems associated with maintaining the Australian road network.
The Productivity Commission, report Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review, said the current funding base for roads is unsustainable.
In The Good Oil this month on page six of Focus, Rod Brown talks about the standard of roads in NSW and the maintenance or lack thereof.
Yes, the Federal Government does provide money to local councils and shires through the Roads to Recovery fund but as I read a media release from a rural council on the unveiling of their electric charging station I can’t help thinking about the source of our roads funding.
President of ALGA, Mayor David O’Loughlin, in his introduction to the National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Albany WA last November, emphasised the importance of federal funding in overcoming local governments’ roads and infrastructure challenges.
But funding only takes us so far. Beyond that is the need for strong and effective relationships between federal and local governments to manage the nation’s road network, including participation in the design and implementation of potential transport reform.
The 2017 census tells us that 98 per cent of vehicles on the road are still petrol and diesel fuelled, and yet the take up of new technology and creative alternatives to traditional transport are gaining momentum. To improve emissions targets and champion sustainability councils are choosing hybrid and electric cars for use in their fleets and enabling their use in general by providing public charging stations. What will replace the tax not being collected at the bowser? How will roads continue to be funded?
A huge proportion of the price of petrol in Australia is the fuel excise the Government uses to keep our roads drivable. If the trend towards environmentally sustainable alternatives continues to grow as it is predicted, and people move away from the heavily taxed petrol and diesel fuelled vehicles, that pot which is currently used to fill the potholes will diminish. Where then will the money come from that keeps the roads up to standard for the electric cars to run on?