The Greens Party has released its transport policy – the first major party to reveal its overall transport platform for the 2016 Federal Election.
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Greens Policy prioritises spending on public and active transport
The ‘Building our clean transport future’ policy promises (nationally) an average $2.5 billion a year for ten years for public transport infrastructure, low pollution buses and light rail.
The policy promises to invest in public transport projects instead of ‘mega-roads’, bicycle and pedestrian friendly cities, world class passenger and freight rail networks, and road safety measures.
Specific mentions include:
- $2.5 billion per annum for public transport projects for ten years
- $250 million active transport fund
- Fast tracking high-speed rail
- additional $500 million for new rail freight lines
- $250 million for arterial road works to maximise efficient traffic flow and enable better bus services in suburban and outer-metro communities
- $300 million for the Black Spot road safety program, with a focus on bicycle and motorcycle safety
- $201 million for electric vehicle infrastructure and fleets.
Support for Airport Rail Link but not Melbourne Metro
Within Victoria, the only specific policy commitment is for $1 billion for an airport rail link to Melbourne Airport; a project that RACV strongly supports. There’s no mention of any assistance for Melbourne Metro, a project that is a critical component of a plan to increase train services used by commuters across Melbourne. Melbourne Metro is one of RACV’s top transport projects and we have already urged the Federal Parties to support it.
Establish an Active Transport Fund
The Greens Party policy proposes Federal Government involvement in walking and cycling infrastructure, with $250 million per annum, nationally. This is a welcome contribution to improving conditions for walking and cycling, including people travelling to and from public transport facilities. There’s no definite commitment of any proportion of that funding to Victoria in the policy statement.
Main road upgrades – clearly not enough
The transport policy has funding for arterial road upgrades in ‘suburban and outer-urban communities’, to maximise efficient traffic flow and enable better bus services, particularly where ‘mass transit options are limited’. The policy allocates $250 million nationally for improved arterial roads, bus priority lanes and fixing blockages to traffic flow. This is a positive step for a major problem, but well short of the scale of the investment needed to fix the problems. In 2012 RACV estimated that the then backlog of infrastructure needed in outer-metropolitan Melbourne exceeded $8 billion. Clearly a national allocation of $250 million won’t go very far given the problems in Melbourne, the nation’s fastest growing city.
Investing in road safety
$300 million is promised for the Black Spot program, which allocates funding to fix locations where there is a history of road crashes. it is critical that such a program is spent to save the most lives and prevent injury, and the commitment to continue the long-running program is welcome.
Getting trucks off-the-road and freight on to trains
The Greens Party plan commits $500 million towards getting freight on to trains. The policy refers to ‘urban freight rail connections’ to get trucks off residential streets, improve safety and reduce pollution, and progressing the inland rail that is in development between Melbourne and Brisbane. Both initiatives are worth developing. The policy does not identify specific projects for urban freight rail – however RACV supports proposals to improve rail connections between the Port of Melbourne and metropolitan inter-modal terminals.
Accelerating the up-take of electric vehicles
The policy includes a range of incentives,
- free registration for the first five years of a fully electric vehicle
- $151 million grant scheme for electric vehicle charge points
- $50 million to assist government and non-government organisations to purchase electric vehicles
- assisting firms involved in electric vehicle manufacturing
- increasing the luxury car tax to 50% for vehicles over $100,000 and fuelled by fossil fuel.
As an operator of an electric vehicle fleet and an expanding charging station network, RACV supports the initiative of assisting Australian’s to purchase electric vehicles by providing free registration, accelerating the roll-out of charging stations and assisting government and non-government organisations (NGO’s) move to electric vehicles. This is consistent with recommendations contained in a recent RACV-supported submission to the Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions led by ClimateWorks – The Pathway Forward for Electric Vehicles in Australia. RACV has also been involved in other EV related activities including dedicated EV Drive Days and the provision of electric vehicles to the Royal District Nursing Service for two years to assist them with evaluating whether electric vehicles could be incorporated within their fleet.
However, RACV is concerned about the Greens proposed increase in the luxury car tax, for those that use petrol, diesel and LPG and cost over $100,000. Innovations in environmental and safety features typically happen on luxury vehicles, and increasing their price may simply slow the introduction of such technology to the mainstream vehicle fleet. To encourage the uptake of electric vehicles, it would be better to offer an incentive as a rebate on the purchase price of electric vehicles. Victorians would have greater choice and better access to vehicles with the latest safety and environmental features with the elimination of both the luxury vehicle tax and the 5% tariff on imported vehicles.
Labor, Liberal and National Parties need to reveal their transport policies
The Labor, Liberal and National Parties need to announce the details of their transport policies and what they propose for Victoria should they form the next Federal Government. Victorians deserve the time to debate the merits of their policies before voting, and Victorians have shown a preference for early voting.
RACV already has a comprehensive transport plan which we sent to all parties seeking their support. Details are also in our blog.
Contact the candidates to let them know what you want
Let the candidates in the Federal Election know what you want them to support by using our easy online tool to send them an e-mail. Be informed before you vote.