Probing the polls: hotel quarantine and rego for every road user

Genevieve Jacobs 26 November 2020 39
Electric car drivers

Should electric car drivers pay a road use charge? Photo: File.

As COVID-stranded travellers continue to return home, Canberra is doing its bit by taking two planeloads of returnees this week.

ACT Health is assuring us that all appropriate measures will be taken to avoid any transmission and the virus escaping into the community, and that the risks have been successfully managed before. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt agrees.

But experts like UNSW epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws say the quarantine system is about to be really tested as the Federal Government increases the number of people being allowed home.

She believes that we need purpose-built facilities, not hotels where untrained staff can so easily let their guard down and that the facilities also need to be outside big population centres, particularly Sydney and Melbourne.


READ ALSO: Time to rethink city hotel quarantine system before another COVID-19 outbreak


Reader Chewy said: “We’ve now had two outbreaks caused by the state hotel quarantine systems and they need rethinking.

“Returned travellers are far and away the greatest risk to major outbreaks and need to be treated differently than the current system. Whilst it may be painful for those returned travellers to be locked away for two weeks in purpose-built facilities, the risk to the rest of the population and the wider economy is too great.”

And Meredith thought that fast saliva testing should be carried out on a daily basis in medi-hotels: “It gives results in five or so minutes and is very cheap and work by Joshua Gans suggests that they are accurate. If someone tests positive with that method then action can be immediately taken. Authorities can also do back up testing with the more expensive testing that takes 24 hours.”

We asked Should the ACT accept overseas travellers into hotel quarantine?

Your answers were very close to even as 1179 people voted. Your options were to vote Yes, it can be managed safely and we all need to share the load. This option received 47 per cent of the total or 553 votes. Alternatively, you could vote No, we’re COVID-free and the risks are unacceptably high. This attracted 53 per cent of the total or 626 votes.

This week, we’re wondering about who pays for our roads. As Australia makes the transition to renewably powered vehicles, there will be a predictable decline in the fuel excise.

So should electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles pay a road usage charge? South Australia thinks so: motorists there who drive electric vehicles will pay the charge from 2021.

And Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas says the charges could net around $30 million per annum, offset by $45 million in the next Budget for measures to encourage electric car use, such as the creation of more charging stations.

But opponents say that the charges could discourage the uptake of renewably powered vehicles.

Not all monies from fuel excise fund roads, but it remains the primary road user charge. The ACT Greens want Canberra to be the nation’s electric car capital, with 90 per cent of new car sales to be zero-emission by 2030.

As a result of the new government agreement signed between Labor and the Greens, the ACT will also be the only jurisdiction in Australia to offer zero-interest loans to help subsidise new and used electric vehicle purchases.

Our question is:

Should ACT electric car drivers pay a road use charge?

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39 Responses to Probing the polls: hotel quarantine and rego for every road user
Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 11:10 am 30 Nov 20

Let's tax non-smokers for their avoidance of tobacco excise.

MERC600 MERC600 6:06 pm 27 Nov 20

Cycladelec … I do like your reply to my note on how us non EV’s pay 42 cents per litre to revenue…””Plenty people with much more informed views than that Riot ACT know that now is not the time to impose a Road User Charge for EVs.””
Am reminded of a line from a old song “Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man”

‘Why’s the rich man busy dancing
While the poor man pays the band.’

Harry Sotiropoulos Harry Sotiropoulos 8:06 am 27 Nov 20

There are more cyclist using the roads than EV's so before you tax EV's start with the cyclists right?

    John Hamilton John Hamilton 8:17 am 28 Nov 20

    The wear and tear on roads is nothing compared to the wear and tear that cars and trucks produce.

    So no, don't start taxing cyclists. Most of them drive cars as well anyway

    John Hamilton John Hamilton 11:06 am 29 Nov 20

    Lynn Stape road registration doesn't fund roads. Roads registration funds the administration behind licensing.

    Funding for roads, footpaths is funded through your income tax and council rates

    John Hamilton John Hamilton 3:07 pm 29 Nov 20

    They have been paid for by rates and other taxes. So they have paid.

rationalobserver rationalobserver 7:19 am 27 Nov 20

Its not just cars, all sorts of things now use our roads and it should be a shared cost. Usr pays and all that.
In some suburbs I now notice ACT government signs announcing that pedestrians also use the roads.

    Maya123 Maya123 1:36 pm 27 Nov 20

    Number plates for pedestrians… and registration ?.

    rationalobserver rationalobserver 7:52 am 28 Nov 20

    No, just pointing out the extent that roads are becoming a multi use community facility.

Lorraine Marsh Lorraine Marsh 6:46 am 27 Nov 20

If you can afford a new car, electric or not, you can afford a tax to go with it. Why should tax payers always pay for rich people?

    Guy Manton Guy Manton 8:07 am 27 Nov 20

    Lorraine Marsh the problem isn't the tax. Its how its designed. Its the equivalent of a non smoking tax. But that's because the fuel excise is a bit stupid in its current configuration anyway.

    Warwick Alsop Warwick Alsop 1:46 pm 27 Nov 20

    Guy Manton You're correct in as much as the Fuel excise is a clumsy way of collecting revenue for road usage. It's not designed a a carbon tax with the purpose of creating a disincentive for petrol cars.

    Electric cars use roads, their tires create friction and ware. Ergo, they should attract road usage fees.

    Jess Harris Jess Harris 1:51 pm 27 Nov 20

    Warwick Alsop they should just add it into rego as a yearly tax

    Warwick Alsop Warwick Alsop 2:10 pm 27 Nov 20

    Jess Harris They already do that with petrol vehicles as well. Ultimately the best thing about fuel excise is that is measures usage to some extent. Use your car less, pay less excise, etc.

    The per km charge does a similar thing for electric cars.

cycladelec cycladelec 10:52 pm 26 Nov 20

Plenty people with much more informed views than that Riot ACT know that now is not the time to impose a Road User Charge for EVs. It is really not too much to ask for Riot ACT to provide accurate information that supports the actions of the ACT Government and many others in encouraging the uptake of EVs of all kinds since reducing transport emissions is pretty important. Thankfully our government is more enlightened and progressive than most in this country.

    JS9 JS9 9:56 am 27 Nov 20

    They could at least get the numbers right (Noting its probably taken from somewhere else). Victorian Budget papers show they only expect to raise $10m a year, not $30m a year.

    mitch82 mitch82 10:10 am 27 Nov 20

    So progressive they can’t even organise the bins to get picked up, we have the worst hospital performance in the country and violent crime rising.

    rationalobserver rationalobserver 8:00 am 28 Nov 20

    Progressive just means rushing like lemons towards the next shiny thing.
    If the ACT government are as good as you would like to believe, then they should be considering the whole economic and environmental life cycle of EV’s.
    That way, the true cost of the energy required to produce the light weight materials used in EV’s can be brought to account, as can the cost of the rare earth minerals which need to be mined and shipped around the world, plus of course the cost of dealing with the highly toxic batteries after they reach their end of life.
    “Zero emissions” is a dishonest marketing term, not a badge of honour for wannabe eco warriors.

Craig Elliott Craig Elliott 10:44 pm 26 Nov 20

No road tax needed for electric cars. This is a stupid debate that it’s needed for another few years and should be nationally rolled out not different in each state. We should be encouraging electric vehicles. The average car in Australia is 10 years old or there abouts so it’s a long time off before we need hard policy on this issue. The % of electric cars within all new car sales is less than 2%... so hardly a major issue currently. Consultation with automotive engineers and transport engineers is what is required not some state government good idea fairies.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 10:53 pm 26 Nov 20

    Craig Elliott no GST from fuel sales means less revenue for maintaining said road network. If they drive on it, they need to contribute towards it.

    Harry Sotiropoulos Harry Sotiropoulos 8:04 am 27 Nov 20

    Marc Edwards as do cyclists, right?

    Guy Manton Guy Manton 8:06 am 27 Nov 20

    Marc Edwards cool. So make the road use tax cover all vehicles a d create a seperate tax for emissions. The fuel excise is a bit of a stupid mechanism for revenue collection anyway.

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 10:55 am 30 Nov 20

    Guy Manton I think fuel excise is quite a reasonable way to cover emissions, both greenhouse gases and local pollution. If you drive an inefficient fuel vehicle a lot, you pay more tax. If you choose a more efficient vehicle and/or drive less, you are responding to a price signal to emit less. If you choose an electric vehicle you might be paying more for the vehicle upfront in the expectation of lower running costs, which is also responding to the emissions price signal.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 11:24 am 30 Nov 20

    Peter Campbell so only the rich or well off can afford the new overpriced EV, but you will charge more for those who can’t afford said vehicle. Typical leftward thinking.

Adele Craven Adele Craven 10:33 pm 26 Nov 20

Riot ACT are choosing to support out-of-date and out-of-context information about electric cars. ACT leads Australian states and territories in support, incentives and research relating to zero-emissions vehicles. Why does a well-regarded organisation choose to deal in gossip and promote uniformed opinion while largely ignoring the progressive actions of ACT Government and many forward-thinking community organisations? There are so many great things happening around EVs - and not just cars - in ACT. It is not about rego. It about supporting new technology that has wide-ranging positive effects on the environment, health, road safety, balance of trade, personal budgets, energy efficiency, and innovation for supporting multiple abiltiies. Very backward approach.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 10:52 pm 26 Nov 20

    Adele Craven no it’s about charging them an adequate amount to cover the lost revenue from fuel GST. That GST is then used to repair and maintain roads. EV’s should still be required to contribute as they still dam the road surface.

    Adele Craven Adele Craven 11:07 pm 26 Nov 20

    Marc Edwards It is not the GST that is currently being debated. EV owners pay GST on their car purchase and on the electricity it uses - as well as numerous other taxes. Fuel excise has not been directly linked to roads and their maintenance for more than 50 years. And fuel excise has been dropping for a while because of more fuel efficient cars - which still are responsible for most of the drop in fuel excise revenue. According to The Australia Institute an increase in road user tax is much more sensible for heavy transport that does thousands of times that damage to roads than cars do. Really the whole system needs to be revised. It is extremely shallow and short-sighted to apply a tax to EVs when they currently have little effect on the level of excise but are contributing to major disruptions in energy, road safety, health, fuel security etc. When in a few short years electric vehicles are autonomous and most people will not need to own a car, income streams will need to be revisited. Maybe in that time the federal government will not be giving billions to support fossil fuel industries and cleaning up after them. (We certainly won't need to be paying to get our fuel from overseas) And there will be much more money left for roads, welfare, housing, schools, health, the arts, sport, community facilities....

    Neil Craven Neil Craven 7:31 am 27 Nov 20

    Marc Edwards haha the gst and fuel excise go into federal general revenue. This has nothing to do with repairing the roads.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 7:46 am 27 Nov 20

    Neil Craven actually your only sort of correct, the feds collect the GST on behalf of the states (I didn’t mention excise) and then redistribute it back to the states. So no it doesn’t go into federal consolidated revenue. Then when GST is returned it can be used for multiple streams such as health, education, city services, which includes maintenance of the road network.

    Neil Craven Neil Craven 7:52 am 27 Nov 20

    Marc Edwards let’s not get too deep into the states share of the gst pie. And the things like stamp duty that were supposed to be removed. I paid 5k stamp duty on the car. Think that balances any lost gst on fuel for a long time. About 200000 KLM’s.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 7:55 am 27 Nov 20

    Neil Craven no it doesn’t, as someone who buys a petrol powered vehicle still pays both. EV’s need to contribute to their road usage, end of story.

    Harry Sotiropoulos Harry Sotiropoulos 8:04 am 27 Nov 20

    Marc Edwards so do cyclists then right? I see those tryhards using the roads I pay taxes for use the roads for free.

    Neil Craven Neil Craven 8:05 am 27 Nov 20

    Marc Edwards no problem with that when ice pay a pollution tax. Based on their CO2 emissions per Klm. Remove fuel excise and the fuel subsidy (1200$ per man woman and child in Australia) every car pays a road user tax with heavy vehicles paying a higher rate as they are the ones damaging the roads. Btw we pay GST on the Electricity we consume too.

    Gen Ryan Gen Ryan 8:07 am 27 Nov 20

    Adele Craven that’s a remarkably over sensitive reaction to a question. There are two sides in the article and two sides in the poll - aren’t we even allowed to have the discussion??

    Steve Ulr Steve Ulr 10:06 am 27 Nov 20

    Adele Craven there are still not enough incentives for zero emissions-vehicles and solar in general. We get more sun than pretty much any country with arable land; and the health benefits of clean air would outweigh the initial outlay in the outyears.

    Adele Craven Adele Craven 10:12 am 27 Nov 20

    Dave Ryan If you are happy to look at a fraction of the picture in dim light, then this line of reporting is fine.

Jessee Bunyip Jessee Bunyip 10:23 pm 26 Nov 20

on electric cars - just change the road tax from fuel to tyres. Done.

    Stephen Esdaile Stephen Esdaile 7:34 pm 27 Nov 20

    And how hard is it to cross the border to get a new set of shoes on the car? At least the fuel tax works because there's no point driving 30 kms to save $5.

MERC600 MERC600 1:57 pm 26 Nov 20

What will be of importance is how the Feds look at electric powered vehicles.
Fuel excise is a great earner for the Feds.. Every litre of petrol you pay for, about 42 cents of it wanders off into the Federal Treasury.
As is quoted “”As revenue raising goes, fuel excise must be Treasury’s golden child””. But along come leccy cars using no fuel… and .. uh oh , no revenue.
I suspect this will not be allowed to happen for much longer.

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