Sydney levy to hit rural drivers

A STRUGGLING Northern Rivers family driving a Ford Falcon will pay $30 a year towards Sydney’s new transport network, while someone living on Sydney’s swanky North Shore driving a $115,000 Lotus Exige will pay nothing, figures released by the NRMA reveal.

The motoring body yesterday attacked a new levy announced to help pay for Sydney’s planned $50 billion transport network, saying Northern Rivers motorists would, on average, would pay more towards the network than the people it is being built for.

State Ballina MP Don Page has left open the possibility of the Coalition opposing budget measures to charge regional residents for the project, saying the imposition of a statewide levy for a localised project was unprecedented in NSW.

NRMA Motoring & Services president Wendy Machin said the levy, planned to help pay for the $50 billion Sydney train, bus, ferry and road network, would vary between $5 and $50, depending on the weight of the vehicle.

That meant Northern Rivers motorists, who tended to drive bigger cars because of the bigger distances they had to cover and the rougher roads they had to traverse, would pay more than many of the plan’s beneficiaries in inner-Sydney, where the small car was king.

Figures released by the NRMA yesterday show people driving popular six-cylinder family cars such as the Ford Falcon (1660kg) or the Holden Commodore (1628kg) would pay the maximum levy of $30 with their car registration. People with the top-selling Toyota Corolla (1295kg) would pay $20, and people with small cars such as the Hyundai Getz would pay an extra $5.

However, residents in swanky inner city areas of Sydney able to fork out $115,000 for a LotusExige would be exempt from the levy because their car would weigh less than 975kg.

Mr Page said the levy was unfair and previous project levies had been charged only in the areas that benefited them and statewide levies had been intended for statewide projects.

Mr Page said it was too early to say for certain how the Coalition would respond to the levy. “But I wouldn’t mind betting that we’d oppose it,” he said.

“Regional people shouldn’t be paying for Sydney infrastructure.

“I can’t say for sure (how the Coalition will respond) because the legislation hasn’t come through, but we are not happy at all and it’s likely to be a budget measure that comes under heavy scrutiny.”

With the support of the Greens and independents, the Coalition could theoretically shut down the levy when the budget reaches the Upper House later this year.

A spokesman for Roads and Transport Minister David Campbell yesterday failed to return The Northern Star’s call on the issue.

Changes to Motor Vehicle Weight Charge (annual charge)

         PERSONAL ($)        BUSINESS ($)

Weight (kg) CurrentFrom July 1, 2010Current  From July 1, 2010

0-975      176     176         286   286

Examples: Fiat 500 (885kg) $25,990; Smart ForTwo (768kg) $23,040; Nissan Micra (965kg) $17,990; Mazda2 (970kg) $22,140; Suzuki Alto (858kg) $11,790; Lotus Elise (832kg) $70,000; and Lotus Exige (942kg) $115,000.

976-1154     199      204         320   325

Examples: Ford Fiesta (1061kg) $20,990; Holden Barina (1116kg) $17,990; Toyota Yaris (1045kg) $20,440; and Hyundai Getz (1091kg) $14,990.

1155-1504    230   250        374       394

Examples: Toyota Corolla (1295kg) $30,900.

1505-2504   351    381        564    594

Examples: Holden Commodore Omega (1628kg) $40,390; Ford Falcon XT (1660kg) $36,490; Toyota Aurion (1540kg) $42,990: and Toyota HiLux ute (1465kg) $52,841.

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