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Australia: Cost of Driving Skyrockets
Spiraling state government taxes and fees are raising the cost of driving in Victoria, Australia. Members of parliament pay nothing with a Gold Pass.

Gold Pass
On top of record gasoline prices, state government fees, tolls, taxes and tickets in Victoria, Australia are soaring. This year motoring fees were indexed to inflation so that they will automatically increase yearly.

For example, the inflation-adjusted cost of renewing a driver's license increased from $41 to $42 and automobile registration went up to $164.50 from $160.50. Minor speeding tickets jumped $3 to $131. Entirely new fees have been imposed on private parking lots which must now pay a $400 annual tax for every parking spot, an amount that doubles to $800 in 2007. Motorists must also pay a $5 toll on a major new road, despite election promises that the road would be free. Motorcyclists pay an annual $50 tax called a "safety levy."

All of these fees, taxes and tolls add up, and the total annual cost of running an average automobile in Victoria is $10,600 -- the highest in Australia. In all, these motoring taxes have raised $1.2 billion for the government. Yet the members of parliament who vote to impose them are themselves exempt, fueling a taxpayer-provided car with duty-free petrol and enjoying free parking, registration and maintenance. Officials who wish to take the train can go anywhere for free with a special "Gold Pass."

Article Excerpt:
Motorists' group the RACV says it is beginning to look like drivers are being treated by the Government as an easy mark. "Motorists are hurting because of extremely high petrol costs and the State Government is making a lot of money," spokesman David Cumming says. "The fact that they have indexed every fee, every charge, every fine, suggests that this Government sees the motorist as a very large milk cow."
Source: Motorists at braking point (The Age (Australia), 10/1/2005)

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