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$1.2B welcome to continue Roads to Recovery.

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Peter Andren MP - Independent Member for Calare

22 January 2004

$1.2B welcome to continue Roads to Recovery

The Government’s allocation of $1.2 billion to continue its Roads to Recovery program is smart policy, but ending its fuel sales grant scheme to save $800 million for other transport spending could mean more expensive fuel in the bush, according to Peter Andren, Member for Calare.

“Its good to see country councils and ratepayers are being listened by the Coalition with its commitment of $1.2 billion to continue Roads to Recovery for four more years,” Mr Andren said.

“The Roads to Recovery program was originally announced in the lead-up to the 2001 election and now this new funding announcement also comes with an election pending any time in 2004.

“But I am concerned that the Deputy PM and Transport Minister John Anderson’s decision to end the fuel sales grant scheme to fund additional transport spending may see higher fuel prices for regional and remote Australians.

“From 1 July 2006, $800 million will redirected from the one or two cents a litre grants to fuel retailers to pay for infrastructure spending in the non-metropolitan and remote areas.

“The fuel grants scheme was introduced with the GST to try and even out the city-country fuel price differential.

“Mr Anderson says that he doesn’t expect any significant increases in country fuel prices because competition will keep prices stable.

“Apart from being nonsense as banks debate charging country people more to use ATMs, it begs the question: why the need for a grants scheme in the first place?

“Competition might be the Government’s solution for everything but they ignore the fact that in the country where markets are smaller, competition alone doesn’t work to benefit the consumer.

“I am happy to see new money for the Roads to Recovery program, especially as federal road funding to local government has been declining as a percentage of the budget for well over a decade,” Mr Andren said.

“Before Roads to Recovery, councils could expect to seal 5 kilometres of roads a year with Commonwealth money. A continuation of the scheme was therefore absolutely essential,” he added.

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