Insanity is repeating the mistakes of the past and…

Posted by on Dec 8, 2014 in Community, State Government | 2 Comments

If media reports are correct, the structure of a potential ‘congestion tax’ for Western Australian seems lazy, poorly constructed and outdated.

The proposed tax seems to slug the registration of all motor vehicles with a flat-rate fee (based on vehicle type). All vehicle owners will have to pay the tax – regardless of their location (city or country).

The problem of this approach is that such a tax does not send a targeted price signal to motorists contributing to the congestion problem that is purportedly being addressed. The opportunity is therefore lost to incentivise these drivers to change their behavior. The demand for transport infrastructure is unlikely to be impacted upon.

Any hope of the tax addressing congestion comes down to its influence on transport infrastructure supply- as more funds are raised to build more infrastructure to accommodate more demand (assuming funds are not diverted to other purposes). This is likely an inefficient approach to dealing with the problem of congestion as additional infrastructure induces further demand.

Overall its disappointing that Western Australia has not moved beyond such inefficient, regressive mechanisms to deal with the challenges that we face. I don’t believe that much will be solved through such solutions. We will simply have a bigger, more congested road-based city in a state that is more expensive to live in.


  1. Avatar for David
    December 10, 2014

    Did’nt you mean “Normality is repeating the mistakes of the past”?

  2. Avatar for Daniel
    December 16, 2014

    I agree, it is extremely lazy policy. The government underestimates the level of sophistication of the general public and their ability to have a more nuanced debate relating to issues of congestion and a “liveable” city.
    The media this year has been full of stories about the future development of Perth (The series in the West Australian comparing Perth and Vancouver, the series in the Sunday Times about a Future Perth) and it is a shame the government was not able (or willing) to take advantge of that momentum to start a serious conversation with the public about the options we have to address issues associated with a fast growing city.