State Member for Wallsend, Ms Sonia Hornery MP, has cautiously welcomed the announcement by Roads Minister, Andrew Constance MP, that NSW drivers who tow caravans and boats on Sydney’s toll roads will now be eligible for a dedicated rebate.
Ms Hornery has been calling on the Minister to change the Regulations that allowed toll road operator, Transurban, to reclassify vehicles towing a trailer, boat or caravan to Class B category, tripling the toll payable. Transurban increased tolls in August last year but have had a grace period in place since.
Ms Hornery has also raised concerns that the announcement means NSW taxpayers have been left to foot the bill for the rebate, meaning Transurban will continue to collect the full $47.75 toll and the Government will refund more than $30 to motorists.
The announcement is bitter sweet for some, with motorhomes not being included in the announcement.
“This has been a long fight and the news has been welcomed by caravan and boat owners who raised this issue with me last year,” said Ms Hornery.
“I want to thank the more than 10,000 people who signed petitions and wrote letters to both me and the Minister. People power has once again prevailed.
“While it is good news for some drivers, the announcement by the Minister that the rebate will be funded wholly and solely by the taxpayer is concerning.
“Transurban seem to have got out of this whole mess with their profits intact. Last year they tripled the tolls on the M2 and M7 for these motorists from $15.92 to $47.75 and now the NSW taxpayer is going to foot the bill for the almost $32 refund that will be rebated to motorists.
“I cannot understand why the Minister didn’t just change the Regulation that would have reclassified these vehicles as Class A category, which would have left the tolls in line with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour Tunnel tolls.
“I will be raising this with the Minister and asking him what cost the NSW taxpayers will be forced to bear as a result of this announcement, given it also applies to the M4, M5 and the soon to open NorthConnex and WestConnex.
“I will also be asking the Minister why motorhomes have been excluded from the rebate,” Ms Hornery said.