Highway toll suggestion slammed

PEAK motoring body, NRMA, has condemned an Infrastructure Australia suggestion that motorists should pay tolls on the Pacific Hwy to help raise the $3 billion needed to complete the highway’s duplication.

In a report assessing current and proposed upgrades, it was revealed the total cost of uninterrupted dual carriageway between Hexham and the Queensland border may now blow out to $10 billion.

Infrastructure Australia chairman Sir Rod Eddington said the Gillard’s Government’s self imposed deadline of 2016 to safeguard the Pacific Hwy may also be unrealistic.

NRMA Motoring and Services president Wendy Machin said the highway definitely should not be tolled as a means of raising revenue for its completion.

“We are way beyond arguing over funding sources for fixing one of Australia’s most important roads,” Ms Machin said.

“The NSW coroner made recommendations more than 21 years ago that the Pacific Hwy should be dual carriageway.

“The Australian and NSW governments need to work collaboratively and get on with it to ensure it’s completed by 2016.

“Motorists already pour in billions to the Australian Government’s coffers through fuel excise tax.

Ms Machin said $13 billion is collected by the Gillard Government nationally and just $5 billion is reinvested in road and rail transport.

She said two years ago, an NRMA report found that almost 70% of Pacific Hwy upgrade projects were completed past their set deadline.

“Clearly there are other funding avenues such as fuel excise tax revenue – tolling is not the answer.

The NRMA says the 2016 deadline would be met if funding and dedicated completion dates are not met.