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New tax system could threaten environment, economy: engineers

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M e d i a S t a t e m e n t


F O R I M M E D I A T E R E L E A S E Institution

of Engineers,

Date Issued: Friday 26th March 1999 Australia

No of Pages: two NATIONAL OFFICE

the Institution of Engineers, Australia

WILL GIVE EVIDENCE TO THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE on the New Tax System in a briefing this afternoon at 2.00 to 2.45 pm in Room 2S3

New Tax System Could Threaten Environment, Economy: Engineers

In its submission to the Senate Select Committee on a New Tax System,

Australia’s peak engineering body, the Institution of Engineers, Australia (IEAust) warned that the proposed new tax regime will degrade infrastructure and transport systems and, as a result, the country could suffer further

environmental and economic damage.

“The tax system the government is proposing is skewed in favour of road

transport," said Mr Ted Butcher, Chairman of the Institution’s Transport Task Force, part of the lEAust’s National Sustainability Framework.

“The suggested new tax structure will have a significant impact on sustainable transport systems - it’s likely to make the situation worse, not better. Our

current national infrastructure funding mechanisms do n’t encourage

sustainable transport options and the new taxation proposals could result in even greater congestion, air and noise pollution and greenhouse gas


Butcher said that transport issues needed to be reviewed across a range of sustainability factors.

“ Some of the revenue generated from fuel excises, for example, should be used to improve urban public transport systems, rail and road infrastructure and to create a more sustainable future for them."

According to Butcher, public transport systems need help not handicapping.

C ontact: Jeannine Lee P ub lic A ffa irs O ffice r te l 02 62706549 E ngineering House 11 N a tio n a l C ircu it B arton A C T 2600 te l 61 2 6270 6 555 fax 6 1 2 6273 2358 em ail: jiee@ ie .a u http://w w w

Continued on page two



Page two of two : New Tax System Could Threaten Environment, Economy: Engineers

“The lower cost of private motor vehicles will fu rt he r acc e le ra te the move away

from public tra nsp or t tow ar ds the use of private v eh ic le s and this will only

increase our pollution problems."

Mr David Hood, Director of Engineering with the lEAust, agreed with Butcher

and said that the tax stru cture must offer fina nc ia l ince ntive s for more

sus ta in ab le use of ene rgy in transport.

“The highly des ira ble tra n sf e r to alt ernative fuels by buses and fr e ig ht vehicles

will not take place if the cost of diesel is red uce d as the g o v e rn m e n t is

p r o p o s i n g . ”

“ Lowering the diesel exc is e for road veh icle s will en c o u r a g e road tra nsport

systems to more a g g re s s i v e l y compete for land freight, thus even fur the r

inc reasing the p r o b l e m .”

Hood said that unless c h r o n i c def ic ien ci es in the m a in li ne inte rstate rail track

are resolved, rail tr a ns po rt will continue to declin e and this wou ld be a major

en v iro n m en ta l and e c o n o m i c blow to the nation.

“Any new tax system sho uld actively fa cilita te the up gr a de of the mainline

interstate rail track in A u s t r a l i a , ” he said.

“ The con tin ue d growth of road tra nsport - at its cu r re n t rate, let alone an

incr ea se d rate - will not be sustainable, eith er e n v i r o n m e n ta l l y or eco nom ically. The ripple effect of road m ain ten anc e costs, as a re su lt of incr ea se d traffic

load, could become u n a c c e p ta b ly high," he said.

“ The fa il u re of the g o v e rn m e n t to co n s id er s u s ta i n a b l e en e rg y issues as

integral to taxation reform con sti tut es an o v e rs ig h t of 21 st c en tu ry o b lig at io ns

and i n te r e s ts .”

“ The Go ve rn m e n t must take steps to improve t ra n s p o rt eff iciency. A taxation

system that car efu ll y co n si d e r s the balance be tw een the mo ve me nt of people

and goods, both by road and rail, will

for all A u s t r a l i a n s , ” Hood said.

For fu r th e r information, contact:

Mr Ted But cher AM FlEA ust CPEng Chair, lEAust T r a n s p o rt Ta sk Force National S u st a in a b ili ty Fr am ew or k

Ph 02 62 9 9 3 6 6 8

con tri bu te to a more su s ta in a b le future

Mr David H oo d FlEAust, CPEng Director of E n g in e e r in g Institution of E n gi n ee r s Aust Ph 02 6 2 7 0 6 5 2 9 (w) 02 62587 161 (ah)

018 487 498 (m)

C ontact: Jaannine Lee P ublic A ffaire O ffice r te i 02 62706549 E ngineering House 11 N ational C ircuit B arton A C T 2600 te i 61 2 6270 6555 fax 61 2 6273 2358 em ail: jiee@ ieaust. http://w w w .ie .a u