Australia should bite the bullet now and introduce a road-user charging system for electric vehicles to restore fairness and help offset a future slide in $12 billion of fuel excise collected by the federal government, the chief executive of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia says.
Adrian Dwyer said it was simply unfair for the driver of a Tesla vehicle or a $200,000 electric-powered BMW to cruising on public roads and not pay fuel excise, compared with the driver of a 10-year-old Holden or a Toyota Corolla who is on the same road.
The Federal government had the ideal opportunity to move now and solve a tax collection hole which will become more substantial over time as more electric vehicles come onto the roads, he said.
“Don’t treat electric vehicles as the problem, treat them as the solution,” Mr Dwyer told The Australian Financial Review National Infrastructure Summit.
“It’s not fair. It should be fair,” he said.
Leilani Frew, the chief executive of the Federal Government’s Infrastructure and Project Financing Agency, said there were already forms of road user charging in place and it wasn’t for governments to try and push people toward one mode of transport over another.
“There is already a road user charging model in place,” Ms Frew said.
That came in the form of fuel excise for traditional internal combustion engine-powered vehicles and registration fees for vehicles.
Individual motorists also made their own choice as to whether they used a toll road, or took a different route.
She used the example of a motorist who might pay a toll of $9.30 to travel 33km on the WestConnex motorway, or to take public transport with a lower fare of $6.20.
They made a choice depending on their own circumstance.
The IFPA was set up in 2017 to provide advice to governments and states on infrastructure investment decisions, and she said it was too simplistic to measure everything against the returns that an ASX-listed company might achieve.
Governments had a nation-building role too and should step in to build infrastructure and public assets that otherwise might not be built, she said.
Michel Masson, the chief executive of Infrastructure Victoria, said the asset recycling program instituted by then Treasurer Joe Hockey in 2014 and which had now been discontinued, had been a big success and worked well in helping to fund big infrastructure projects.
But it was now harder to find the next wave of public assets that might be privatised.
“The low hanging fruits have already been harvested,” Mr Masson said.
Extracted from AFR