THE national infrastructure sector has welcomed the proposal by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill to trial road user charging for heavy vehicles in the state, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) said last week.
During a speech at the National Press Club last week, Mr Weatherill offered to conduct a trial of heavy vehicle road user charging in South Australia.
"This is a breakthrough moment in the process of seriously reforming how we pay for major infrastructure in Australia," said IPA Chief Executive Brendan Lyon.
"It is a very important first step in walking away from Australia's outdated and ineffective way of funding transport infrastructure.
"Last year, IPA released a major study with Australia's peak motoring clubs calling for a national inquiry into transport funding, because we found that the current approach is terminally broken.
"Worse, our modelling found that the existing system sees substantial unfairness, with low impact road users in the regions and outer areas paying large subsidies to high end users in the inner city.
"This proposal by Premier Weatherill is important for the nation, because the data collected and lessons learned during a state-based trial would provide a bank of information to assist with nationwide implementation.
"Real data would move this discussion beyond theory and substantially advance the community's understanding about real options to fix decaying roads, modernise our railways and decongest Australia's cities.
"Reforming road charging will be just as complex as other major taxation reforms, like the GST, and it will need a deep discussion with the community over time."
Mr Lyon said the proposed trial in South Australia, along with Transurban's year-long road charging study in Melbourne, shows that real progress is being made towards road user charging following the release of IPA's study last year.
"Ultimately, road user charging should apply to all vehicles, not just freight traffic, because this will be the most sustainable and fair way of funding infrastructure. But public understanding of this is crucial, which is why a real-world trial is so important," Mr Lyon said.
"Premier Weatherill is to be commended for his willingness to tackle this challenging reform."