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Who should pay to use our roads?
The "squinters" of our cities' western suburbs that drive into work in the rising sun and return as it sets, the trucks that clog Australia’s highways or the increasing number of electric car owners – that at the moment – pay nothing at all.
Traffic along Dacey Avenue in Alexandria, Sydney.CREDIT:WOLTER PEETERS
Australia’s roads are, at least in theory, paid for by a fuel tax every time a motorist fills up at the bowser – it costs up to 40 cents a litre each time you pull into the service station.
But there is a billion dollar issue. Cars are becoming more fuel efficient, so less fuel is being used and less tax is being collected.
On top of that, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator electric vehicles are projected to represent around 19 per cent of the light vehicle fleet in Australia within the next two decades. Inevitably, they will become the world’s dominant mode of transport and they don’t use any fuel at all.
It is a wicked problem. So wicked that no fewer than three infrastructure ministers and three prime ministers have deliberately ignored it despite revenue plummeting 30 per cent since 2001, the largest drop of any tax as a share of the economy.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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