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Federal Government speaks with forked tongue on toll roads.



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KELVIN THOMSON Media Release from the Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Roads, Shadow Minister for Housing and Urban Development (43/05) FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SPEAKS WITH FORKED TONGUE ON TOLL ROADS The Howard Government is prepared to back a toll on the Pacific Highway in New South Wales in order to prevent a 20 year delay in its construction. But it attacks the Victorian Government day in and day out for taking the same approach to the Mitcham-Frankston Road - putting on a toll to prevent a 20 year delay in its construction. It is time for the double standards to stop. It is time for the $520 million which rightfully belongs to Victorian motorists, and is being withheld by Peter Costello, to be handed over to the Victorian Government to be used for important Victorian projects such as the Deer Park By-Pass, the Pakenham By-Pass and the Calder Upgrade. The Howard Government continues to engage in buck passing and point scoring over infrastructure projects. The amount of money it collects in petrol taxes continues to rise, partly due to petrol price rises following its bungled foreign policy adventurism in Iraq. In 2001-02 it collected an estimated $7.053 billion in excise and $1.420 billion in petrol GST. In 2004-05 it is estimated it will collect $7.460 billion in excise and $1.860 billion in petrol GST. The excise take has risen by over $400 million and the petrol GST take has also risen by over $400 million. The Howard Government has collected nearly $850 million in extra petrol taxes but has failed to seriously tackle infrastructure bottlenecks. The Howard Government set up a four year $120 million “Strategic Regional Roads” program as part of AusLink last year, then blew nearly all of the money during the Federal election campaign without any merit based assessment process whatsoever. Had the Howard Government been more willing to entertain Labor’s proposal for a National Infrastructure Advisory Council and more willing to use its petrol tax windfall on road projects, we might now have fewer infrastructure bottlenecks, and be better placed to meet the land transport challenges ahead. /Ends Melbourne 21/03/2005 Contact: Cora Trevarthen 0418-770 484