– New road tollways in Australia – a rort?

Australian governments appear to be in the process of succumbing to efforts of persuasion by the Transurban corporation to adopt a so-called user pays ‘road pricing’ scheme on all public roads in the future (i.e. that people might need to pay to drive just down the road to the shops or a school, and not just on the existing tollways). We investigate here how this proposal for ubiquitous electronic toll roads – to be facilitated of course solely by Transurban for profit – would also seem to be the culmination of a cynical, opportunistic and often counter-productive process. This is also how, encouraged and supported by an uncritically naïve and generally reckless governmental strategy of market-led public-private investment and public asset privatisation in Queensland as well as elsewhere in Australia in recent times, Transurban emerged as a manipulating and all devouring as well as opportunistic ‘mega-monopoly’ ruthlessly seeking to take over, own or at least control, and endlessly profiteer from perhaps the most pivotal domain of public infrastructure assets (public roads). With a particular personal as well policy focus on Transurban’s recent takeover of the South-East Queensland tollway network as a model also for Sydney, Melbourne and beyond, the paper also explores the nature of various claims at both the macro and micro level that this all constitutes a rip-off, a sting, a rort, and/or a scam (i.e. various and inter-related inappropriate ‘conflicts of interest’) that needs to be challenged as a convergent corporate-governmental-bureaucratic refusal as well as failure of overall accountability at every level.  FULL PAPER HERE