Palaszczuk Government supports calls for new Queensland Tolling Ombudsman
The Palaszczuk Government has responded to the report and recommendations of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the operation of Queensland’s toll roads.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the government supported all five of the Transport and Public Works Committee’s recommendations and was already working to implement them.
“The Palaszczuk Government wants Queensland’s toll road fees to be as low as possible under the terms of the commercial agreements with private operators and we’re working hard to achieve better outcomes for motorists,” Mr Bailey said.
“The committee recommended regular reviews of toll fees and charges so that opportunities to lower them as better technology reduces administration and operational costs can be quickly identified.
“The most recent independent review of Queensland toll user charges in November 2017 found charges were reasonable but we agree there should be a formalised auditing agreement to set firm timelines for regular pricing reviews.
“We also support the committee’s strong recommendation to consider establishing a Queensland-based Toll Road Ombudsman service.
“A Queensland-based Toll Road Ombudsman could provide a more accessible and independent service to ensure toll road users are treated fairly when disputes arise.
“We need Brisbane City Council’s support to do that and I have written to Council to request its views on the Committee’s recommendations and seek its cooperation to implement some of those recommendations.”
A private investment consortium took control of south-east Queensland’s toll roads in 2014 after the former LNP Newman Government encouraged Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) to sell the expanded Queensland Motorways franchise.
Since being elected, the Palaszczuk Government has acted to improve the experience of Queensland motorists.
In 2016, a new tolling compliance and enforcement system was introduced to focus on customer engagement and early resolution of complaints and billing issues.
The introduction of the system resulted in fewer state-issued infringements and an 85 per cent reduction in the amount of tolling debt referred to SPER.
Mr Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government had committed record spending to relieve congestion in south-east Queensland.
“Our $21.7 billion QTRIP roads and transport budget over four years is the largest ever committed in this state’s history,” Mr Bailey said.
“That includes funding for major upgrades to the M1, planning for the second M1, Gateway Motorway, Ipswich Motorway, Bruce Highway as well as projects targeting key congestion points like the Sumners Road interchange, duplicating the Centenary Bridge, Mt Lindesay Highway upgrades and building the North and Eastern busways.
“When it starts operating in 2024, the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail will allow more trains to run more often and will enable a significant increase in the region’s rail network capacity, providing a basis for future expansion of the network.
“Toll roads provide a quicker travel option for motorists but those who choose to take that option should also be prepared to pay for it.”
The Committee’s recommendations:
- The committee recommends the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and Brisbane City Council (BCC) continue to monitor fees and charges on a regular basis to ensure they remain reasonable and reflect cost recovery principles
- The committee recommends TMR and BCC continue to work with Transurban Queensland to reduce fees and charges as technological advances reduce the costs of these additional charges
- The committee strongly recommends that the Minister for Transport and Main Roads consider the establishment of a Queensland-based Toll Road Ombudsman
- The committee recommends that the Minister for Transport and Main Roads consider investigating whether contact data, including contact telephone numbers, could be shared with the toll road operator, while complying with relevant privacy principles, for the purpose of ensuring that customers are aware of toll fees earlier in the process
- The committee recommends that the Minister for Transport and Main Roads consider investigating what additional processes, if any, would be necessary to ensure enforcement action is not initiated whilst unresolved disputes apply to a particular matter.