Public debate on whether the road or the rail sector is relatively more disadvantaged in terms of competition tends naturally to be driven by the specific interests of the protagonists. The focus of the debate reflects changing issues as new, alleged discrepancies are discovered. It has therefore ranged from taxes paid, the extent of charges levied, and the degree of direct or indirect financial assistance provided by governments, and the fairness of increasing mass limits for heavy road vehicles. It is thus not surprising that the debate continues, and that it is not particularly fruitful or illuminating. The BTCE has adopted a different approach. Given the intensity of the debate and the fact that it has continued for so long, it was surprising that little or no systematic information exists on taxes and charges in the transport sector. The BTCE's first step was therefore to compile the lists presented in the appendixes (to which many public and private organisations and individuals generously contributed). Recognising that all four modes (it was not possible to include pipelines) are substitutes to some extent, the list is not limited to road and rail. Most importantly, the summary matrix in table 1 (liftout) and the underlying analytical approach reflect marginal cost principles in the hope that this methodology will assist objective comparisons between modes, as well as the formulation of policy options in any consideration of general taxation reform.
- Taxes and Charges in Australian Transport: A Transmodal Overview