Federal election report on vital Victorian transport projects

RACV RoyalAuto Magazine

This year’s federal election on 2 July is critical for Victoria, which has been neglected by successive governments trying to win marginal seats in other states. Yet Melbourne is growing the fastest and needs federal support for key road and public transport projects.

When voting, think about what your local candidates are promising for where you live, work and holiday, and whether they have solutions that will help you get around.

Through RACV member market research and evaluation of the transport networks in Victoria, we have identified five priorities for you to think about when voting. These projects are of national importance. They help people in Victoria have better work and leisure journeys, and many will also greatly improve the productivity of our freight system.

Complete the Ring Road

RACV’s top road priority has long been completing the M80 Ring Road, from Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway and EastLink. This significant gap in our freeway network is channelling traffic along inappropriate arterial roads such as Bulleen Road, Rosanna Road and Greensborough Highway as well as other roads through Eltham and Greensborough. There is also an urgent need for an alternative route to the Monash/CityLink corridor. It is vital that the next Federal Government also continues with a commitment of funds to widen the last sections of the existing M80 in Melbourne’s west and north.

Western Distributor

The Western Distributor, which involves a tunnel connecting the West Gate Freeway at Yarraville with an upgraded Footscray Road, is a vital project that will improve east-west connectivity. It will help commuters from Melbourne’s west, address the issue of trucks on local roads in the inner-west, and provide an important alternative to the West Gate Bridge.

Metro Rail Tunnel

This project will provide the capacity for critical additional train services across Melbourne, as well as improving reliability. Network extensions can only be delivered once Melbourne Metro and the Dandenong-to-Caulfield projects are completed.

Regional highways

The continuing program to duplicate and improve the safety of the highways connecting our biggest regional cities and towns is critical. The Western Highway to Stawell, Princes Highway East to Sale and Princes Highway West to Colac are vital connections. The next government must commit to completing all three duplications in its first term.

Shepparton bypass

Shepparton is an important agricultural centre in the Goulburn Valley and also an important junction on the Goulburn Valley and Midland Highways, on the inland route from Melbourne through central NSW to Brisbane. Early work has identified a route, and now a commitment is needed to finalise investigations and the design and deliver a minimum four-star-standard road that will take long-distance truck traffic around the city.

POLICY PRIORITIES

There are also a number of key transport issues RACV wants the next Federal Government to address.

Motor tax revenue

About 16 per cent of household expenditure is on transport. Motorists contribute significantly to federal revenue through fuel excise, the 5 per cent tariff on imported vehicles and the Luxury Car Tax, which increases the cost of many vehicles with the best safety features and lowest environmental impacts. This election, RACV wants to see more of that tax paid by Victorians used for land transport in Victoria, with the goal of at least 50 per cent of revenue from fuel excise spent on roads and public transport infrastructure and services.

Road user charges

RACV supports a federal inquiry into how Aust­ralia’s existing transport backlog and new transport infrastructure needs can be met. As vehicles become more fuel-efficient, including being powered by electricity, fuel excise revenue will decline substantially. This is an opportunity to create a new and fairer system for charging for road use, to collect the money required for the land transport infrastructure we need.

Safer roads and motorists

Safer drivers using safer roads significantly reduces the trauma from road crashes, which is why RACV wants the Federal Government to continue funding the national Keys2Drive program that provides a free lesson to a learner driver and their supervisor. RACV also wants the next Federal Government to create a program to upgrade substandard sections of the national highway network, and to provide more blackspot funding to fix crash locations on highways and local roads.

Written by Brian Negus RACV’s general manager of public policy
June 01, 2016