Joint Media Release
Almost three quarters of Australians (72%) want to see revenue from a Carbon Tax, if it is introduced, invested in improving public transport, walking and cycling according to polling conducted by Auspoll and released today.
The poll, of 1500 Australians covering all age and income brackets, was commissioned by a coalition of transport, environment, health and Local Government groups.
The results were released at a Summit held in Canberra today to identify transport based solutions to the issues of climate change, congestion, physical inactivity and population growth in major cities.
“This poll demonstrates an overwhelming majority of Australians identify compensation under a carbon scheme as not just handouts from the Government, but also investment in measures like public transport that will make their lives better and reduce carbon emissions at the same time,” said Bus Industry Confederation Executive Director Michael Apps.
“The money raised through the carbon price should primarily be spent on solutions, not on compensating industries that are part of the problem,” said Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Don Henry.
“That means building a low carbon economy and supporting the growth of clean energy and public transport.”
82 per cent of respondents to the poll supported an increase in Federal Government funding for public transport and 87 per cent of respondents supported Federal Government investment in public transport to address the issue of traffic congestion in major cities.
“Congestion costs the Australian economy almost $15 billion annually and Australians are telling us this that traffic congestion is more than a dollar figure; it is a problem that hurts everyone who lives in our cities by lowering their quality of life and affecting them financially,” said Professor John Stanley of the Institute of Transport and Logistics at the University of Sydney.
“This poll indicates very strongly that Australians identify public transport as a solution to congestion and they want the Federal Government to invest in making it more accessible and convenient for them to use.”
“The poll results reflect the fact our cities and urban communities require transformational change in the way we live, travel and consume if we are to have a quality of life that comes even close to what we are experiencing today, tinkering at the edges will not even maintain the status quo,” said Executive Director of the International Public Transport Association, Peter Moore.
“Our major cities are choking on congestion and social isolation through lack of access to services is becoming all too evident.”
“We are devoting a proportion of disposable income to travel that is impacting too heavily on the amenity of our lives,” said Moore.
Mayor Felicity – Ann Lewis, Deputy President of the Australian Local Government Association and the representative of Local Governments at the Summit welcomed engagement with the coalition on the issue of transport provision in urban areas.
“Local Government as the provider of the most extensive urban transport infrastructure is ready to work with industry and the other levels of government to address congestion and the emerging transport issues.”
Respondents who did not use public transport for work trips identified the coverage, capacity and efficiency of public transport as the major obstacles to using it, 70 per cent of all respondents supported the Federal Government becoming more involved in the planning of public transport in cities to address congestion.
“In the major cities such as Melbourne and Brisbane, we have seen significant growth in public transport patronage on our bus and rail networks. In regional areas, we have also seen considerable growth, last year patronage for non-urban rail services grew by almost 15 per cent,” said Australasian Railway Association, CEO Bryan Nye.
“In cities with lower levels of patronage growth like Sydney, we are already operating at capacity, particularly during peaks. Unlocking capacity constraints in our systems will help place public transport as a key solution to road congestion, reducing carbon emissions, and our dependence on imported oils.”
“The Federal Government must take the lead role in capacity building and planning for public transport across Australia. It needs to increase infrastructure funding and assisting State Governments to deliver more services where they are needed,” said Nye.
“While cardiovascular disease kills an Australian every 11 minutes, physical inactivity is a major health problem in its own right, said Dr Lyn Roberts, National CEO Heart Foundation.
“More than half of Australian adults (54%) are not sufficiently physically active to gain health benefits. Physical inactivity kills 16000 Australians a year and costs our health budget $1.5 billion annually.
“This poll tells us Australians want to be more active, use public transport that is frequent, reliable and accessible and they want the infrastructure in place to encourage walking and cycling. Increased investment will encourage public transport patronage in our cities and unblock two kinds of arteries - ours and traffic,” said Dr Roberts.
“The poll identified that 85% of Australians want the Federal Government to spend money on better planning to make walking and cycling for transport simple and convenient options,” said Government Relations Manager for the Cycling Promotion Fund Stephen Hodge.
“Better planning will provide a more efficient transport network for all users.”’
The poll was initiated by a Coalition of seven key bodies; the Australasian Railway Association, Australian Conservation Foundation, Australian Local Government Association, Bus Industry Confederation, Cycling Promotion Fund, Heart Foundation, and International Public Transport Association.
To organise interviews and photo opportunities with any speakers in the release, please call:
Emma Woods, 0438 209 588
Isuru Neelagama, 0451 005 661
Monique Blunden, 0414 789 849
The full polling report from Auspoll is available on request by calling Isuru Neelagama on 0451 005 661. A backgrounder for journalists including maps of seats where voters are most affected by increases in fuel prices is available by calling Isuru Neelagama on 0451 005 661.