SkyscraperCity banner
1 - 20 of 182 Posts

·
Champagne Socialist
Joined
·
11,953 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
http://www.theage.com.au/news/ross-...1146335727956.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

Rising petrol prices are good for us


May 3, 2006

"This pointless struggle to accommodate motoring won't be able to continue."

Traffic stresses us. So public transport will do us no end of good, writes Ross Gittins.

One good thing about next week's federal budget is that even though Peter Costello is flush with cash and likely to offer tax relief to families, he's unlikely to cut the tax on petrol.

That's a good thing because we must learn to live with high petrol prices, not find ways to duck them.

With prices hovering around $1.40 a litre in some cities and Costello warning that worries about the Iranian nuclear stand-off could push them up to $1.60, the motoring lobbies are looking for ways to ease the pain. The RACV, for instance, wants Costello to remove the GST on fuel excise, saving about 3.4 cents a litre.

But whichever way you look at it, cutting the tax on petrol would be the wrong way to go. For a start, there's the conventional economists' argument that the best response to higher prices is higher prices.

Huh? It's not as meaningless as it sounds. Prices rise when the demand for something is growing faster than its supply. Although part of the rise in oil prices is based on speculation about disruption in the Middle East, and so may not be long-lasting, the underlying increase in demand is coming from the rapid growth in the economies of China, India and other developing countries. This is likely to keep upward pressure on oil prices for many years.

But in a market system, a rise in the price of some commodity prompts a change in behaviour. It increases supply by encouraging exploration for new sources, makes formerly uneconomic oil fields profitable and encourages the development of substitute fuels.

At the same time, it reduces demand by encouraging consumers to use petrol more economically and search for cheaper substitutes. Put this reduction in demand together with the increase in supply and you see that a rise in prices should lead to a fall in prices.

So allowing retail petrol prices to move in response to market forces is the best way to minimise the long-term rise in prices likely to come from the developing world's increasing demand for oil.

There is evidence that motorists really are changing their behaviour in response to the higher prices of the past year or two. Despite the continuing growth in our economy, the quantity of petrol sold in Australia last year fell 8 per cent.

In the purchasing of new cars, there's a marked swing away from four-wheel-drives and other gas-guzzlers towards smaller cars. There are even signs of a modest switch back to travel by train and bus.

But the economists' conventional response doesn't fully capture our present situation. We need to limit our use of petrol and other fossil fuels in the interests of the environment.

So, if anything, the tax on petrol needs to be higher, not lower. The recent report on international tax comparisons showed that in the December quarter of last year we had the third lowest level of taxation on unleaded petrol among the 30 members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - 49 cents a litre compared with the average of $1.15 a litre.

It really is remarkable the way we can have our regular bouts of indignation over the price of petrol without anyone thinking it relevant to mention greenhouse gases. Politicians and greenies who profess to be terribly concerned about our failure to sign the Kyoto Protocol keep their mouths firmly buttoned.

But, if you accept that the world price of oil is likely to stay high and go higher over the coming years, there's a third respect in which we need to adjust rather than duck.

It concerns the way our state governments have persistently neglected public transport while desperately seeking to accommodate our desire to drive everywhere. Whatever the truth of the claim that the states have allowed public infrastructure to run down, it can't be said of their continuing direct and indirect investment in expressways.

But it isn't working. No matter how many improvements they make, the reduction in congestion is always temporary. Why? Because congestion is the only thing restraining our deep-seated preference for driving.

So when conditions improve, driving increases until the degree of congestion returns to about its former level. The fact that public transport keeps getting worse doesn't help either, of course.

The point is that this pointless struggle to accommodate motoring won't be able to continue. It fits neither with our need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions nor with the likely inexorable rise in the cost of private motoring.

But when finally our state governments get the message that they need to switch their investment from expressways to public transport there'll be a bonus for you and me.

Research into happiness shows that the aspect of people's daily lives they least enjoy is commuting.

And much research by psychologists shows that people find driving through heavy commuter traffic particularly stressful. In extreme cases it can cause gastrointestinal problems, headaches and anxiety. Elevated blood pressure is common.

But if driving through heavy traffic is so bad for us, why do so many of us want to do it? Because human nature is full of contradictions. The state pollie who wakes up to this one will do wonders for our health and happiness.

Ross Gittins is a senior columnist.

________________

it could have done without the last stress parts - primarily because his argument was malformed - but: :yes:
 

·
Watch my Chops
Joined
·
6,034 Posts
:) Yep.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
296 Posts
very good article

I wish that the Swiss or Dutch colonised Australia instead, would love a tram or a hydro bus from Winston Hills to Paramatta, and then free bike to work. Would be a lot better for people´s health, a lot more soothing for commuting stress, and a hell of lot better for the environment.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
296 Posts
I meant tram/bus/metro to the city first, and then meant bike around to work/lunch whatever business you need to do daily, and then tram/bus/metro back home.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
76,984 Posts
dont get me wrong, i wish the automobile was removed from our lifestyle. not gonna happen.
what about if you have 5 kids? have you tried to organise public transport with young ones?
what about sports on weekends? just put your 6 year old on a bus and wish him good luck?
Maybe bring in the law -familys can have luxury of a car and singles can walk everywhere. sounds good.
might look good on paper. what about reality?
Everyone s seems to be dumping cars for public transport, what happens if public transport is up to shit?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
296 Posts
i didnt say remove cars completely out of the equation

Public Transport for kids: School bus? Each suburb should have a school near its vicinity, but its unAustralian to have specialised public transport directly to it ofcourse!

Sports on weekends: Use the car?

and yeah no comment on public transport, thats just how lagged out Australian infrastructure is
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
9,681 Posts
All well and good if you live in innercity London next to the tube, little different waiting for BCC buses in outer suburbia that run to their own schedule and go nowhere but town.

This isn't Amsterdam, you can't cycle to everywhere, we don't live in 8 storey blocks of endless mid-rise close to the CBD. You are comparing apples and oranges, sure maybe in inner Amsterdam you use a bicycle, but live a bit further out and they use cars just like here. So unless you move everyone in Australia to to Paris London style mid-rise and build a good tube system it'll never happen.
 

·
Lurker
Joined
·
3,805 Posts
And with the number of people on trains, it's going to be next to impossible to actually take it with you on the train.

Maybe they could convert a carriage to a bike carriage where there's no seats and larger doors and commuters can put their bikes in there. But it's not exactly worth it since you're removing a lot of capacity for passengers.

Unless they provided bike lockers at the destination instead - but it's probably a bit inconvenient having to leave your bike in the city, and you'd have to go there off-peak to pick it up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
296 Posts
you don´t need to take a bike with you, there´s heaps of free hire in the city whereever you get off
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
849 Posts
CULWULLA said:
dont get me wrong, i wish the automobile was removed from our lifestyle. not gonna happen.
what about if you have 5 kids? have you tried to organise public transport with young ones?
what about sports on weekends? just put your 6 year old on a bus and wish him good luck?
Maybe bring in the law -familys can have luxury of a car and singles can walk everywhere. sounds good.
might look good on paper. what about reality?
Everyone s seems to be dumping cars for public transport, what happens if public transport is up to shit?
I think you inadvertently hit the nail on the head with referring to WEEKENDS. Most european families have cars - just not necessarily 1 per adult. And that's the point. It's about reduction. Don't drive the kids 1 kilometre down the road to school, walk with them, or provide proper buses for them. When they're old enough, let them ride their bikes. If you really do need to ferry a larger family to an obscure location, then by all means drive there.

In the UK (and there are many quite low density areas which make up the 60 million people here) only 40% of under 23s have a drivers licence, and this only reaches 65% (approx.) by the age of 30. This number in Australia would be close to 100% for both.

And when people talk about cycling - look at any Australian suburban train station and what kinds of facilities they have for cyclists - almost none. Yet they spend huge amounts of money and land to provide parking. 3 or 4 parking spaces worth of proper secure cycle parking would probably take 40 or 50 cars out of the car park. And if you don't want to leave your bike, then get a fold up bike, which can be carried onto even the busiest peak hour train.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
849 Posts
invincible said:
And with the number of people on trains, it's going to be next to impossible to actually take it with you on the train.

Maybe they could convert a carriage to a bike carriage where there's no seats and larger doors and commuters can put their bikes in there. But it's not exactly worth it since you're removing a lot of capacity for passengers.

Unless they provided bike lockers at the destination instead - but it's probably a bit inconvenient having to leave your bike in the city, and you'd have to go there off-peak to pick it up.
Bike storage should be compulsory in any new commercial development, but in any case, if you have a long trip at both ends of your train journey, get one of these..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
296 Posts
should be but it wont, our government could hardly care!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,542 Posts
Rising petrol prices good for us.

In a nutshell it mean EVERYTHING goes UP in price because oil is needed for practically everything in our lives. Yet your wage/salary remains the same.

Disastrous for us more like it and just bullshit propaganda to keep the people in line.
 

·
Banned
Tremendous
Joined
·
8,579 Posts
Living in a suburban area is very difficult without a car. Part of our lifestyle that we enjoy in Australia the fact we have wide open spaces and nice big houses with pools in the backyard.

We don't need live like London, we have plenty of space to branch out. Regional centres should grow.

PT is a great help and should be used when possible but high petrol prices are not going to help anyone. What about transport costs for trucks, couriers, planes, buses etc.

Sure we need to try and curb our dependance on oil and in my point of view there is enough technological advancements to have done this already. So blame the car companies, the oil companies. Its not peoples fault they need a convenient mode of transport.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
984 Posts
It's not realistic to expect Australian cities to turn into an European city in terms of public transport. But we sure can try and curb car use.
 

·
Here Since 2002
Joined
·
7,261 Posts
well we can curb all our car use but if us here in Sydney are gonna have substandard rail services it's not helping us at all. Hows the hybrid car situation in Australia, I'm not very aware of it.. I still got Ford Falcons and Holden Rodeo's stuck up my face in commercials
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
252 Posts
What Australia, and specifically Brisbane needs is a good dose of New Urbanism.

Much like many European cities, a City plan such as this would be much more sustainable, economically, socially and especially environmentally.



http://www.newurbanism.org
 

·
Here
Joined
·
6,589 Posts
I think the way cars are taxed should be changed. Currently there are tariffs against imported cars, and then there is a luxury car tax for vehicles over $57,009 value.

I think we as a nation would be better served with a scalling taxing system on new vehicles that is based on fuel consumption. So small cars and hybrid cars are tax the least and monsters be heavily penalised.

It's ironic that some of the worst guzzlers on the road are the Australian made large cars built in the mid and early 1990's. The people who own these vehicles today (as 2nd hand purchases etc) are the ones who can least afford to operate them with the current fuel prices.
 
1 - 20 of 182 Posts
Top