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Monday, 26 November 1973
Page: 3866

Mr Hamer (ISAACS, VICTORIA) asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

(1)   Did he, in May 1969, move an amendment to the Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill 1969 regretting the Government's continuing refusal to plan expenditure of an amount at least equivalent to the proceeds of all automotive fuel taxes on roads and associated facilities.

(2)   If so, does he plan to ensure that the new Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill will follow the principles he enunciated in 1969.

Mr Charles Jones - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   At the time of my statements in Parliament in 1969, it was Labor Party policy for all revenue received from motorists by way of fuel tax to be spent on roads. When this policy was adopted we believed that it was necessary to upgrade our road system to meet the needs of the increasing number of cars coming into the roads.

Subsequently, however, consideration was again given to Australia's overall transport needs. From this it was concluded that the motor car was creating social, environmental and economic problems and greater emphasis should therefore be given to the development of public transport. It was also concluded that fuel tax should be regarded as a general revenue tax in the same way as the tax levied on cigarettes, etc. Roads compete not only with other modes of transport but also with the other objectives of governnment. A direct linking of petrol tax to road development may result in expenditure on services which the community hay indicated require high priority, being less than it would be.

It is possible to compare petrol tax collections at any given time to necessary expenditure on roads. However to rigidly link the two would reduce the ability of the Government to attune its policies to match developing circumstances and the changing needs and desires of the Australian people.

At present the Australian Government is reviewing its policy of assistance for roads. This review will include not only road needs, as disclosed by the roads survey being undertaken by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads in co-operation with State road authorities, but also prospective sources of road finance. It will also take account of the limits of construction resources available for roads.

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