The Federal Government receives approximately $20 billion each financial year from fuel excise – currently 42.3 cents per litre of diesel and petrol pumped at the bowser – but only 22 cents out of every dollar raised is funnelled back into roads.
On the eve of the Federal Budget, the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) has renewed calls for roads to receive a fairer share of the funds raised by motorists.
Figures from last year’s Federal Budget (2018-2019) show $19.786 billion was raised in fuel excise and only $6.1 billion was spent on transport infrastructure, which includes road and rail.
When spending on railways is removed, 2018-2019 budget papers show just $4.432 billion was given to states and territories to spend on roads, including bridge renewal programs and “roads of strategic importance”.
Known “blackspots” were only allocated $120 million last financial year – an increase from $85 million in 2018-2019 – however that funding is projected to scale back to $110 million per annum over the next three financial years.
A black spot is defined as a “high risk” area for serious crashes and which “have a record of at least three accidents involving casualties over a five-year period and can demonstrate a cost-to-benefit ratio greater than two”.
While the national road toll has come down over the past 12 months due to restricted travel caused by COVID-19 restrictions, the AAA says more needs to be spent on roads to further reduce road trauma.
During the 12 months to the end of August 2020, 1121 road deaths were reported by Australian authorities – a decrease of 4.8 per cent compared to the same period to the end of August 2019.
Australia’s current rate of annual deaths per 100,000 population stands at 4.4, a 6.1 per cent decrease compared to the same period a year prior.
In a recent study that compared the road toll in advanced countries, Australia’s fatality rate declined by 34.0 per cent between 2009 and 2018. Over the same period, the OECD median rate declined by 29.2 per cent.
“In terms of the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle kilometres travelled in 2018, Australia’s rate of 0.43 was the 7th lowest rate out of 19 nations with available data,” the report said. The nations with the three lowest rates were Norway (0.23), Ireland (0.29) and Denmark (0.31) (Table 3.1).
Vulnerable road users (motorcyclists, pedestrians or pedal cyclists) accounted for 36 per cent of total road deaths Ian 2018, the report said.
In a media statement AAA managing director Michael Bradley said: “The Government has the opportunity to start attaching strings to funding provided to state and territory governments, which can start to ensure their respective safety commitments are met.
“In addition to the tragic and unnecessary loss of life, our failure to reduce road trauma continues to cost the Australian economy nearly $30 billion every year and represents a $4 billion annual drag on government budgets.”
Mr Bradley said this week’s Federal Budget is “expected to confirm motorists continue to pay their own way on the nation’s roads through the 42.3 cent per litre fuel excise, which is again expected to generate significantly more revenue for the federal government than it spends on roads and public transport expenditure”.
The AAA represents more than 8.5 million Australians through motoring clubs such as the NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, RAC, RACT and AANT.
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