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Release of "energy and road transport discussion paper"

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Concerted action by Government, industry and the community was needed to overcome the growing environmental problems associated with increased use of motor vehicles, the Federal Minister for Resources, Mr Alan Griffiths said today.

Mr Griffiths was releasing a Ministerial Discussion Paper on "Energy and Road Transport" in a speech to the International Business Communications Energy Management Forum in Sydney this morning.

"There are nearly 8 million cars and stationwagons on the road in Australia which travel a total of 120 billion km per year.

"For every litre of fuel used, our cars produce about 2.5 kg of carbon dioxide representing around 5 tonnes per car per year.

"Cars are the largest source of urban air pollution, contributing about three quarters of the nitrogen oxides, half of the hydro carbons, 90% of the carbon dioxide and 95% of the lead present in our urban air.

"In some cities around the world, we have reached the stage where on some days, people are at risk from venturing outside. Regrettably, this prospect is developing in Australia. This is simply not acceptable. We don't want our cities to go the way of Los Angeles and we don't want to be reading day after day of smog crisis headlines."

Pfrr Griffiths said resolving the problems caused by increasing motor vehicle use would require concerted action on a range of fronts.

"The Ministerial Discussion Paper I released identifies a range of options for addressing these issues. Possible options include:

• . targetting of sales tax and company tax arrangements to influence purchasers' choice of vehicle;

use of registration and insurance charges to reflect fuel efficiency or the supply of infrastructure generally, with the possibility of incorporation in die price of fuel;

fuel efficiency standards through voluntary or mandatory regulation;

education campaigns from already existing programs such as the "Fuel Consumption Guide" to major initiatives such as a nationwide campaign, vehicle labelling, inclusion of material in school curricula and inclusion of information on fuel consumption in vehicle snecific advertising· and ___

Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600

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"In the longer term, we also need to deal with the problems created by peripheral suburbanisation, which is leading to rising costs in providing services and infrastructure to meet growing demand for transport. Research has indicated that the provision of freeways to service such outlying areas has led to increased vehicle use, greater traffic congestion in the cities, lower patronage of public transport, further growth in urban sprawl and consequently increased aggregate use of transport fuels." y

Mr Griffiths said that at the core of the road transport issue was the need to have tax, price, regulatory and public information systems that help bring home to users the real cost of transportation.

"While we are still at an early stage of trying to determine the relative merits of options in such a balance and how this might effectively be achieved, we can say with some certainty now that we don't want to go down the American road.

"In that country a policy of cheap petrol has made a number of cities almost uninhabitable. Smog levels in the Los Angeles basin now exceed health safety limits for more than a third of the year and their cheap petrol policy has fuelled an uncompetitive motor vehicle industry which produces cars that the rest of the world simply doesn't want", Mr Griffiths said.

Mr Griffiths said that Australia had to start addressing these issues now.

"The longer we delay, the less Choice we will have."

Copies of the Minister's speech and the Ministerial Discussion Paper are available from his Office. For further information please contact Kristen Barry in the Minister's Office on ph (06) 277 7480.