Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 7 May 1987
Page: 2493

Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Is the Government aware that, of the $5,600m collected from the total fuel tax in Australia, only $1,245m, or 22 per cent, is spent on Federal road construction, and that less than one-third of the $4 billion spent on Australian roads last year came from Federal government funds? From those figures, it is clear that the Federal Government is the biggest fuel tax collector, but the smallest road construction spender. Considering that the road network is the lifeline of millions of Australians and the lifeblood of 830 local authorities in Australia, when will the Federal Government play its part in improving the roads used by Australian motorists?

Senator GIETZELT —I cannot confirm precisely whether Senator Bjelke-Petersen's assessment of the collection of tax from fuel excise is being spent in the percentage terms that she suggested. Assuming that her statistics are correct, I remind her that, as far as I can recollect, fuel tax was introduced in about 1929 and has continued as a means of collecting revenue under successive governments over that time-in excess of 50 years. This Government has not departed from the principles on which previous governments have used the excise tax for general revenue purposes as well as for the construction of roads.

The proportion of funds that this Government has set aside for road construction in its first four Budgets has been considerably in excess of that provided under the Fraser Administration. The honourable senator's Party was an honoured member of the coalition but is no longer part of the process. I suppose that her question today is part of the independence that is emerging from the conservative forces.

On the Government's future intentions for road construction, Parliament has agreed to the Australian bicentennial road development program which, from memory, provides about 25 per cent more in total funding to the States for allocation to their main roads and local government roadworks programs. Therefore, this Government has spent more on road construction than the previous Government. I shall refer the question to Mr Morris in case he wishes to add to my answer.