National Road Transport Association calls for infrastructure investment
Despite the propsed $100 billion investment by the Federal Government for infrastructure, prominent economists have claimed that Australia should invest more heavily in infrastructure. This claim has lead to the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) into supporting the cause. The announchement specifically referenced calls for infrastructure investment to be evaluated by an independent agency.
Thomas Helbling, International Monetary Fund Economist, claimed that forecasts of economic downturn needed to be offset with infrastructure spending, when speaking with the Australia Financial Review earlier this month.
Warren Clary, the CEO of NatRoads claims that it is urgent for a regulator to be eastablished inorder to help influence how tolled roads are planned, built and operated. He says “At present, the process of deciding which roads should be tolled and how they are integrated into the road system is poorly planned.” The CEO goes on to say “The setting up of an independent price regulator for heavy vehicles is long overdue and is an essential step in maintaining the long term viability and productivity of the road freight transport industry.”
Mr Clark believes that an independent price regulation should aim to replace the current charging system that funds road construction. He says that the propsed independent pricing regulator would possess a broad regulatory role including regulating and monitoring toll fees and landside port charges. The CEO believes that there is currently a lack of transparency and fairness in setting tolls and landside port charges for heavy vehicles.
The regulator appointed must be empowered to solve issues with toll roads that has failed to be address in three Parliamentary inquiries, including the lack of competition in private toll road operation, heavy vehicle operators paying for road network improvements through increases in tolls without experiencing the promised efficiencies and governments forcing heavy vehicles to use tolled roads by banning them from alternative routes. Mr Clark claims that “Infrastructure spending is vital for the health of the Australian economy and for a viable road transport industry,”