Arguably one of the best roads in Australia, the Great Ocean Road in south Victoria, could become a toll road with charges of up to $20. Corangamite Shire mayor Matt Makin is proposing the idea this week to the local council.
One of the main arguments against charging motorists is the possibility that it will not only deter the motorists but also visitors and tourists. The Great Ocean Road features various international tourist attractions including the Twelve Apostles and Bells Beach.
Cr Matt Makin said in a speech that there is little evidence that a toll would repel visitors, saying, "An additional $10 to $20 is going to be inconsequential - particularly to overseas visitors who are simply not that price sensitive."
According to Cr Makin, the money raised from the tolls would go to improving and maintaining the roads, parks and various rest stop facilities along the way. The proposal includes the installation of toll booths at either ends of the national park. Cr Makin said,
"Charging users to enjoy the Great Ocean Road and Port Campbell National Park experience may be the only solution to improving the yield, building required infrastructure and protecting the environment that forms the core of the iconic offering."
Shipwreck Coast marketing chief Carole Reid also supports the proposal, but says restricting the toll area to the Twelve Apostles would be a better idea. Ms Reid says that the natural resources around that area are world-class, but says the facilities are not. The money from the tolls could be spent on improving that.
Meanwhile, Surf Coast Shire mayor Dean Webster disagrees, and is skeptical about where the funds would actually go. He said in a recent News Limited report,
"Any toll would go back into government coffers and it would be doubtful if it would go back into the road."We just need to get the government to acknowledge the heritage value and tourism value of the Great Ocean Road and put more resources into maintaining and improving it."
What do you think? Should there be a toll on the Great Ocean Road if it is going to lead to improving the infrastructure of the area? Even if it's $20? Or should one of Australia's best roads remain a free drive?