Christian Kerr writes:

The Sydney Morning Herald goes big
today on its transport talkfest with a whole string of stories.

One of them comes from the Parliamentary
Secretary to the PM, Malcolm Turnbull – who admits that he’s talking outside
his portfolio.
That’s nothing new for Turnbull. He’s trod on a few toes in the past with his
contributions to the tax debate.

Turnbull’s is a densely populated, inner city
electorate. He’s a public transport fan. But the Pedestrian Council is disappointed
that he hasn’t continued his tax stirring.

Chair Harold Scruby is critical of the
conference. “More effective policies and actions are needed to promote active transport
and reduce car use,” he says, “yet the words walking and cycling hardly appear
on the agenda.”

He has two ideas for Turnbull to take on
board:

The federal government could initiate two significant changes with the
stroke of a pen.

While the FBT and Tariff regimes were
inherited from the previous Labor government, the current FBT on cars now sees
every middle-manager rewarded with a vehicle in lieu of a salary increase. This
tax is structured so that the further the owner drives the car, the lower the
tax, thus increasing petrol consumption, greenhouse gases, traffic congestion
and the potential for road trauma.

This tax must be reversed immediately to
reduce car-dependency and encourage the use of public transport. And the
FBT on CBD car-parking should be reviewed commensurately, to significantly tax
motorists who drive into and park in cities.

Additionally, the current tariff on
motor-vehicles allows 4WDs such as a 12 cylinder, gas-guzzling VW Touareg to
come into Australia at a 5% tariff and a four cylinder Toyota Corolla at
10%. This is utterly absurd and will not even reach parity until 2010.

The tariff must be amended immediately to
allow hybrids into the country at 0% tariff and an upward sliding scale to
heavily tax those passenger vehicles which use the most fuel.

Peter Fray

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