WA motorists would fork out the equivalent of an extra tank of petrol a year to help the State pay for more roads and public transport under a radical Budget fix being considered by the Government.

Colin Barnett revealed late last year that Cabinet had held discussions on the measure, which would apply Statewide and be charged per vehicle rather than per driver, with possible exemptions for farm equipment.

Heavy vehicles, the biggest cause of road degradation, could be slugged more and low-income motorists are unlikely to receive help to pay the proposed impost beyond existing concessions.

Combined with a $109 rise in compulsory third-party insurance fees if WA moves to a no-fault system within two years as expected, the transport tax would push the average household’s car costs up $176 for a standard sedan and $201 for a diesel SUV.

That would cost the average household with two licensed drivers $853 a year in registration and compulsory insurance costs to run a sedan and $878 to run an SUV, using last week’s average unleaded and diesel pump prices, according to RAC analysis.

The Premier said he would rather not introduce the measure from next financial year, but WA’s growing population meant the Government had to consider how it kept people moving.

“We cannot dodge this. Perth is growing as a city, it’s becoming more densely populated, there are more and more vehicles on the road and vehicle owners and users maybe just have to contribute a bit more, ” he said.

“People won’t like any extra charge. I certainly understand that, but I also have the responsibility to ensure that our roads and our public transport is well funded and operates efficiently to serve the public.”

Mr Barnett acknowledged that increased car registration fees on top of higher CTP insurance costs would be a lot to absorb in one hit and he did not want to damage public support for the no-fault model.

“I respect the people of WA to make the distinction (between the charges), ” he said.

“I sense that a growing proportion of the population believe we should have no-fault insurance.”

The Opposition attacked the proposed transport tax as the result of the Government’s poor handle on the finances, pointing out expenses growth had continually outstripped revenue growth under Mr Barnett.

Motoring groups claimed drivers already paid enough for transport infrastructure, while the Greens and Curtin University sustainability professor Peter Newman said more should be done to get people off roads and on to public transport.


© The West Australian

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