Decades of under-investment by governments across Australia have left the country extremely vulnerable to rising oil prices, the Australian Greens warned today.
Greens transport spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said governments had been pouring money into roads and fuel subsidies while neglecting public rail.
"Over the past decade in this country, the amount of money spent by all levels of government on building public roads and bridges has been 4.3 times that spent on public railway construction," he said. "At a time when it is clear the days of cheap oil are over, and with Australia set to import 70% of its oil by 2015, this is a recipe for disaster."
Senator Ludlam said the Public Transport Report published by the Australian Conservation Foundation yesterday made for troubling reading.
"Following $5.1 billion given away as subsidies in the Fuel Tax Credits program in 2007-08, $11.3 billion was spent on road construction and more than $1 billion in Federal funding was surrendered for the Fringe Benefits Tax for private use of company cars in 2008/2009. Those figures contrast starkly with the $3.3 billion spent that year on rail construction nationally," he said.
"The price of oil is rising and so is our dependence on imported fuel, without decisive action this will put enormous financial pressure on the vast majority of Australians," said Senator Ludlam.
"All levels of governments need to work together to implement a national strategy for breaking our reliance on oil by developing world class public transport systems in every city and regional centre."
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