The Australian Government’s funding for the AusLink transport program must not be diverted to other infrastructure, Australian Trucking Association Chief Executive Stuart St Clair says.
Mr St Clair was responding to suggestions that some of the Government’s AusLink funding could be allocated to other infrastructure areas such as water.
“AusLink is the biggest transport infrastructure investment in the Australian Government’s history, but it’s all needed due to the rapid growth in the amount of freight on our roads,” he says.
“Australia’s critical long distance road links, including the Pacific, Hume, Bruce and Sturt highways, are already undercapitalised.”
“There is also an urgent need for more spending on road infrastructure in urban areas,” he says.
For example, the BTRE has estimated that congestion on the urban parts of the AusLink network could cost Australia $20.4 billion per year by 2020, unless action is taken.
“The new Government responded in the election campaign with a strong package of road funding commitments, which will dramatically upgrade Australia’s road links and eliminate bottlenecks,” St Clair says.
“These commitments and the cost overruns from AusLink 1 will cost every cent of the $22.3 billion allocated to AusLink 2 from 2009 to 2014.
In fact, some of the projects will need to continue into the years beyond 2014.
“In our pre-budget submission, the ATA urged the Government to focus on implementing its road funding commitments, because fixing Australia’s roads will boost the economy and improve safety. Our goal is to have safer roads, safer trucks and safer drivers.
“It will be important for the Government to fund other projects identified by Infrastructure Australia, but these should be funded by increasing the overall level of spending on infrastructure, not by diverting resources from roads,” St Clair says.
The submission can be downloaded from the policies and submissions area of the ATA website, www.atatruck.net.au/policies_submissions.html