SECRET ROAD TAX

IT’S the secret tax the major parties don’t want to talk about – a system for draining money out of every citizen that can be easily supercharged to raise a trillion dollars at the flick of a switch. Both the LNP and Labor plan to introduce a Road Tax, run by a third party private consortium with management rights over the country’s road network. The trials are already well advanced and well documented but no one is saying anything about it because the major parties need something like this road tax to pay for their spending and the debt they have racked up.

Every car, truck, and bus will be fitted with a smart meter, telling the government everywhere you go and when you go there. The privacy implications alone are staggering but just as concerning is the potential for the resulting tax to be set at any level. Like the GST, this tax will be felt by everyone in the country. And just as we were told the GST would replace other taxes, we will be told the road tax will replace fuel excise and registration. Where it differs is the rate of tax can be raised to any level with just a few keystrokes and without having to get approval from the states. We might as well hand our bank account passwords to the government so they can help themselves to whatever they want.

The major parties are committed to the Road Tax because it will solve a number of problems for the government. Electric cars don’t use fuel so the government will miss out on billions of dollars in fuel excise as the government forces petrol cars off the road. Fitting them with smart meters, like e-Tags, will capture those dollars by another means and both the major parties are planning for electric cars to become the only means of transport.

The “proof of concept” trials are finished, telemetric devices have been procured, and a private ‘road-managing’ corporation engaged to run the Federal Government’s on-road Road Charging Trial throughout 2020, ending in January next year. Government bureaucrats hope to forestall any public resistance with a ‘staged’ introduction, starting with trucks and heavy vehicles, which will then be gradually expanded until every vehicle on the road is covered by the new policy.

The road tax is particularly dangerous for regional drivers, who sometimes have to drive many kilometres on State roads just to get to their neighbour’s house. The government’s new Road Tax system would force people to have a “smart meter” device or e-Tag installed in their cars. The device would send monthly readings to a private consortium, like Transurban, with rights to charge drivers for their usage of State roads. The third party “service provider” would charge drivers based on how many kilometres they had driven, which roads they had driven on, and what time of day or night it was when they did.

A road tax or ‘road-user pricing system’ has been sold to Labor and LNP as the perfect green measure with huge behaviour change advantages in reducing car usage and allowing governments to further many other broader policy objectives. It’s all part of the major parties’ plan to phase out fossil-fuelled cars completely by 2040, or even 2035 and forcing higher taxes onto fossil-fuel cars is a key mechanism being used in Norway to force people into EVs. They want everybody in electric vehicles as soon as possible, despite the fact that EVs have a much shorter driving range, require a lot more servicing and take forever to recharge. So long, in fact, that they have been known to cause grid failures and blackouts in areas where more than three or four are trying to recharge at the same time, although no-one in the media or government will tell you about that.

Background information

Both the major parties are likely to claim the Secret Road Tax is fake news so here’s some of the background information where you can confirm for yourself that this is very real and coming to a set of wheels near you:

The Inaugural Road Pricing Forum – Open Discussion surrounding the movement towards road pricing reform in major Australian Cities – to be held in 2021

https://www.informa.com.au/event/conference/road-pricing-forum/?utm_source=Google-Conferences-AAA&utm_medium=cpc-aaa&utm_campaign=AAA-road-pricing-forum-Nov-2020&gclid=CjwKCAjw0On8BRAgEiwAincsHBYLplJO7YItLQqbE8Z9tIT7Em-19uBnB4HiNs5uQDpYJCtCpw6YShoCl_YQAvD_BwE

GOVERNMENT POLICY DOCUMENTS

Federal Government Heavy Vehicle Trial Program 2020-21 – to be run in two staged trials with second one ending in January 2021

Program Flyer states: “Government has co-designed the trials with industry to inform and shape future policy” explaining that the “National Pilot will report road use data and receive mock invoices comparing their current heavy vehicle registration and fuel charges against alternative charging scenarios”.

https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/heavy/charging-trials/files/large-scale-trial-flyer.pdf

Flyer for Second Stage also gives goals as collecting “distance, mass (weight) and location data from vehicles’ telematics (distance recording) devices” and generate mock invoices.

https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/heavy/charging-trials/files/national-pilot-fact-sheet.pdf

Government website for the program

https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/heavy/charging-trials/index.aspx

Federal Government’s 2019 Infrastructure Audit – Report from Infrastructure Australia

Report states that “the transport sector risks becoming financially and environmentally unsustainable” (5.1 p. 266) and that ”the problem of cost recovery has been exacerbated by a growing disparity between increasing traffic and the decreasing return of funds to governments from fuel excise due to improved vehicle efficiency” .

It also notes that road use has increased, “while excise revenue has decreased by 20%.” (5.1 p. 266).

The Report refers to “strong support for user pays mechanisms for infrastructure” (p266) and discusses potential mechanisms for ‘behaviour change’ saying that “ We also need to look at the potential for emerging third-party revenue streams” and use of  “Telematics and vehicle tracking (to) help with scheduling and improved data collection and planning”.

Section 5.2 looks at how “Costs of road congestion and public transport crowding are forecasted to double from 2016 to 2031” and that current model is unsustainable.

https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-10/Audit%202019_Full%20pdf_Updates%20September%202020.pdf

Infrastructure Australia (Federal Government Agency under  – 2018 – Government Policy Document on Infrastructure Pricing Reform

Whole document is about “road reform” and includes a recommendation for “road user charges” to be introduced, for which IA says “there is broad agreement on the need for road infrastructure reform to drive productivity

https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-06/making-reform-happen-full-report-low-res.pdf

Parliamentary Inquiry into Road User charges – 2017-2018

Policy Position papers of all stakeholders are unanimously in favour of road user chargers, even ag bodies – see whole list at link below

https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/heavy/independent-price-regulation.aspx

Selected Policy papers on road pricing from Stakeholder groups

Australian Automobile Association Policy Position Paper supports road user pricing

https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/heavy/files/Attachment_A_AAA_Policy_Position.pdf

Business Council of Australia Policy Position paper on road user charges – August 2017

The framework for the independent price regulation for heavy vehicle charges should be designed so that it can eventually be expanded to all vehicles on Australian roads

https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/heavy/files/Business_Council_of_Australia_IPR_submission.pdf

Grain Growers Policy Position Paper on road user charges

Grain Growers support road use charges on heavy vehicles being expanded to include all road users:

The introduction of independent price regulation for road use by heavy vehicles is an important first step in establishing a full direct road user charging system

https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/heavy/files/Grain_Growers_Limited_IPR_submission.pdf

National Farmers Federation policy on road user charges – Given in Submission letter July 2017

Supports expansion of heavy vehicle user pays saying:

The NFF considers the introduction of independent price regulation for road use by heavy vehicles as an important first step in establishing a direct road user charging system.”

https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/heavy/files/National_Farmers_Federation_IPR_submission.pdf

 

Productivity Commissioner Report

The Case for Infrastructure Pricing Reform – What water can teach roads

https://www.pc.gov.au/news-media/speeches/infrastructure-pricing-reform

(PDF coming – to be uploaded soon)

STATE GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS

Victorian State Government

Policy Document on “How an efficient, fair and sustainable pricing regime can help tackle congestion

https://www.infrastructurevictoria.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/The-road-ahead-final-web.pdf

Victorian Government has hundreds of papers on road pricing.  Most recent I could find was a 2020 “Cost Benefit Analysis on Road Pricing

https://www.vtpi.org/tca/tca0506.pdf

NSW State Government – Productivity Commissioner -2020

Continuing the: Productivity Conversation Green Paper

‘Green Paper’ on Road Reform for NSW State Government which arguing for introduction of a pricing model based on Singapore’s Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) scheme

http://productivity.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-08/Productivity_Commission_Green%20Paper_FINAL.pdf

Australian Rail Association

Why Road Pricing is Vital to Australia’s Economic Prosperity

https://ara.net.au/sites/default/files/RoadPricingPaper_Update.pdf

Financial Services Sector -THE BIG FOUR

KPMG – 2019 Research Paper for the South Australian Government recommending Road User Scheme be introduced

https://dpti.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/625951/GlobeLink_Scoping_Study_Report_Business_Case.pdf

Deloittes and Infrastructure Partnerships Australia – Discussion Paper on Road Pricing Mechanisms – prepared with support from:

Australia’s leading motoring clubs, the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), the National Roads & Motorists’ Association (NRMA), the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ), and the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV)

Whole document is on various road user charging models which they recommend be introduced.

https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/au/Documents/public-sector/deloitte-au-ps-road-pricing-transport-infrastructure-funding-260914.pdf

Price Waterhouse Coopers Report recommends third party management and road user charging

https://www.pwc.com.au/industry/infrastructure/assets/productivity-commission-infrastructure-projects-apr14.pdf

Technology Journal Article

News Media – “Rise of the Machines” – A Snapshot of the World in 2038

https://www.freightaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/rise_of_machines_2018.pdf

Transurban Research Paper on Road Charges using Melbourne Roads as the model at

https://changedconditionsahead.com/

Contains following blurb “Transurban is a vocal advocate for road-funding reform. We believe that Australia’s current system of opaque fees and charges and rapidly diminishing fuel excise should be replaced with a transparent charging system that is built on the principle that those who benefit, pay, while ensuring fairness across the community”.

International Bodies

OECD Document exploring what the social impacts will be on people when Road Pricing has been introduced

https://www.itf-oecd.org/sites/default/files/docs/social-impacts-road-pricing.pdf

US Government 2019 White Paper on” Lessons Learned for Designing Programs to Charge for Road Use, Congestion, and Emissions”

https://escholarship.org/content/qt9n8571hf/qt9n8571hf.pdf?t=q3jc3z

UN Infrastructure –

http://dev.codatu.org/wp-content/uploads/Public-transport-integration-in-a-privated-market-recent-policy-lessons-from-abroad-Charles-RIVASPLATA.pdf

FOI and RTI Documents  – Documents released under Disclosure Log 2020

https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/About-us/Right-to-Information/Disclosure-log.aspx

Email correspondence and Departmental Reports – Qld Main Roads and Infrastructure Priority – 2019

Vehicle operating cost estimation approach (ref to VLC approach)

RTI-1003 – Released 5 March 2020

RTI-1091 – Released 29 April 2020

RTI-1135 – Released 19 May 2020

Sets of emails and meeting minutes where policy offices discuss various issues to do with road reform between Queensland Main Roads and Federal body, Infrastructure Australia – discussions on driver behaviour, and how to use “taxation policy” to increase EV take-up.

In Doc 5 they worry that the increases in “fuel efficiency” could adversely effect driver behaviour by making people drive more.

Comments in the documents – doc 8 – talks about how the Department has to have long range targets “to give industry time to prepare”.

Download the emissions meeting pdf here.

Emails recommending other opportunities for Australia’s transport ministers to achieve the objectives of our Inter-Governmental Agreement, that is, by identifying reforms to improve land transport productivity, safety, environmental performance and regulatory efficiency

The NTC’s Work Program contains proposals for new reforms, approved reform projects, improvements to land transport laws, activities to monitor, review and evaluate the implementation of previously-approved reforms, and highly analytical work on heavy vehicle road user charges. (p7)

https://www.ntc.gov.au/sites/default/files/assets/files/NTC-Annual-Report-2018-19.pdf

Land transport: future challenges

  1. 21 on Heavy vehicle pricing

Heavy vehicle charges are set to recover the costs that heavy vehicles impose on the road network. These costs include road construction, maintenance and operations. Under the existing pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) system, these costs have been measured using a retrospective approach, based on seven years of historical data. That is, heavy vehicle charges are set to recover the reported historical expenditure of building, maintaining and operating the road network. Other network infrastructure (for example electricity, water, telecommunications) typically uses a ‘life-cycle’ approach based on ‘forward looking costs’ to measure the costs of investments and operations. Under this model, capital costs are recovered over the time in which assets are used and consumed.

 

 

 

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