Today’s release of the Australian Infrastructure Audit 2019 confirms the urgent need for a Federal Government Land Transport White Paper to clarify how Australia will plan, maintain, and fund transport infrastructure into the future.
Infrastructure Australia (IA) has identified 33 challenges and opportunities in the passenger transport sector alone and another 19 in freight transport.
Australia’s peak motoring body, the Australian Automobile Association, says governments at all levels must focus on transport issues.
AAA Managing Director, Michael Bradley, said the audit highlighted urgent challenges, including the critical issues of how governments would fund roads and transport into the future to address what IA found would be “declining fuel excise revenue and a potential future decrease in registration revenue”.
Mr Bradley said the report found that that – despite record investment – transport infrastructure funding was not keeping pace with population growth
“This has profound implications for how Australia manages freight demands and deals with congestion in our major cities,” he said.
The report also looked closely at Australia’s failing National Road Safety Strategy. The audit stated that “project selection and funding is based on incomplete safety data. Without action, this will inhibit effective cost allocation and understanding of trade-offs with other transport outcomes, such as productivity.”
“The AAA has advocated that Commonwealth road funding should be more strongly linked to safety requirements,” Mr Bradley said. “In the last 12 months alone, 1,214 people have died on our roads.”
The audit’s 33 challenges and opportunities relating to passenger transport include road safety, congestion, road funding, vehicle emissions, autonomous vehicles and electric vehicle charging facilities.
“With so many complex issues, it’s clear we need a comprehensive national review and discussion on land transport via a White Paper process. It’s 15 years since the last Land Transport White Paper was completed,” Mr Bradley said.
“When making transport policy, decision makers must keep in mind that Australian motorists bring their own money to the table. Over the next four years, motorists will contribute about $60 billion in federal transport-specific taxes.”