From: Sergey Golovin

If you do have any further quiries please contact your local ABC Radio Rural - Bush Telegraph.

Serge G.

Every person in rural Australia should be asking their local Member of Parliament about public transport subsidies - why the booming, prosperous metropolis of Melbourne should be receiving a handout of $1.4 billion this year to provide public transport at half its actual cost.

National Competition Policy says subsidies cause financial resources to be misdirected. I cannot believe that the National Competition Council is not aware of Melbourne's massive public transport subsidy, but apparently chooses to do nothing about it.

Now we're in a global economy, let's have a look at what happens in other countries. Public transport in Auckland receives $20 million from the New Zealand Treasury, which amounts to approx. $18.00 per head of population. Toronto receives $106 million, which amounts to approx. $24.00 per head. Melbourne's subsidy amounts to $424.00 per head. That's right, about 20 times the subsidy in comparable overseas cities. The remainder of operational losses in those cities is born by ratepayers served by the system.

If your local members reply that the subsidy is necessary to avoid even greater demand for money for freeways in the cities, you can tell them that Auckland and Toronto also pay for their own roads: Auckland says it will cost its ratepayers $800 million and Toronto $1,400 million to solve their cities' congestion problems.

My argument is that these subsidies are helping a few wealthy people at the expense of the great majority. It is lining the pockets of property owners and developers in the central business district at the expense of country towns and cities, and suburban businesses. Don't get me wrong. Not for one moment would I expect all these subsidies to be redirected back to country areas. But why should country people pay one-third the cost of city freeways when country vehicles would probably represent less than 1% of the traffic?

Is this something that just happens in Melbourne? If other capitals are not subsidised to the same degree, then Melbourne - competitively - has an unfair advantage over the other capitals. No wonder the cities are booming. Country people must demand a satisfactory explanation for this and other enormous subsidies handed out to our cities.
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