28 April 2010

RACQ says sale of Queensland Motorways means tolls for the next 50 years


The Bligh government's plan to sell off Queensland Motorways will condemn motorists to paying tolls on key roads for the next 50 years, the RACQ says.

Queensland's peak motoring body is the latest organisation to campaign against the government's controversial assets sell off.

It wants the planned sale of toll roads scrapped, saying motorists will face a long-term financial hit.

It says those in the southeast will be worst off because they're the biggest users of roads controlled by the government-owned company, including the Gateway and Logan motorways.

"Brisbane's major bypass system should not be controlled by a private operator obliged to maximise returns to shareholders," RACQ spokesman Gary Fites says.

"And the decision to dispose of the tolling rights held by QML through a 50-year franchise arrangement would effectively condemn motorists to the payment of tolls on key southeast Queensland roads through to 2060.

"The entity that buys QML can make money only one way, and that's through toll revenue."

Mr Fites says that if Queensland Motorways remains in government hands, tolls on the road system could be reduced or abolished well within the 50-year period.

The RACQ says the government wants to sell the company so it can retire billions of associated debt despite economists challenging the rationale of the sale.

Griffith University Professor of Economics, Ross Guest, who investigated the planned sale for the RACQ, concluded that the tolling rights should not be transferred to the private sector.

Mr Fites said the government should retain ownership of Queensland Motorways and focus on securing more federal road funding under the Nation Building Program.

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