TONY PASIN MP
MEMBER FOR BARKER
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT
Mr PASIN: I move:
That this House:
Fuel excise is an important contributor to the state and nature of our roads in Australia. You might ask, why is it important to have funds expended on our road network?
Well, put simply, there’s a safety requirement. There’s also a productivity and efficiency requirement.
In terms of the safety requirement, can I tell you that 1,200 people lost their lives last year on Australian roads and 40,000 people were seriously injured. I think that makes that case.
In terms of productivity and efficiency, can I tell you that revenue raised by fuel excise cannot be underestimated in terms of the significant contribution it makes to the development and maintenance and safety and efficiency of our road network.
It’s trite to say, but I will say it, that building and maintaining a safe and efficient transport system is central to Australia’s continued economic prosperity. Land transport is an essential enabler of Australia’s economic growth, and a greater level of investment needs to be maintained.
Fuel excise, which is collected at 47.7c in the litre, will deliver to the Australian general revenue some $13.71 billion in the 2022-23 financial year. It’s projected to increase to $14.74 billion in 2023-24, $15.82 billion in 2024-25 and $15.87 billion in 2025-26. It’s fair to say that’s a gargantuan amount of money that Australian motorists will pay via taxes at the bowser.
What I’m concerned about, and what this motion alerts the parliament to, is that currently 91 per cent of the excise collected is expended on our land transport routes. Sadly, that’s expected to decrease to 88 per cent by 2025-26.
In the year just passed we had two budgets, which, of course, is unusual. We had the Coalition budget in March and the Labor budget in October. It’s my responsibility to highlight to this place, and to all of us more generally, that land transport infrastructure spending decreased by $4.33 billion between those two budgets—that is, between the March coalition budget and the October Labor budget. With respect, that’s more money than you can fly a rocket ship over.
It’s money that is well and truly needed by our road network as it is burdened under the pressure of a lack of maintenance, made worse by the recent prolonged wet period.
The Coalition Government presented the budget in March 2022, and it was packed with infrastructure investment. In fact, everybody knew that there was a $120 billion infrastructure pipeline.
The Coalition legacy included important programs to improve road safety, including upgrading key regional road corridors through the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative, safer local roads and bridges through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, the Roads to Recovery Program, the Black Spot Program, the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, and the Bridges Renewal Program. I could continue on and on, but I won’t.
What I want to do is extend a call. It’s a call that the Australian Automobile Association, AAA, the peak motorist body in Australia, has also been making. And that is that 100 per cent of Australia’s fuel excise collected from motorists be expended on our road network, hypothecated for that purpose.
At the end of the day, the average Australian family contributes approximately $1,188 a year in fuel excise.
This is at a time when cost-of-living pressures have never been greater. I respectfully suggest to you they pay that money begrudgingly, at an opportunity cost to other things in their lives. The very least we can do is ensure that every single cent of that $1,188 is invested in the road network to make it safer, more efficient and more productive.
It’s my call and it’s the AAA’s call. It’s the only call that needs to be made in this space, and it’s one that Labor need to respond to.
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