Today Mark asked two Questions of the Treasurer regarding the proposed tax on electric vehicles.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: My supplementary question to the Treasurer is: is the fuel excise that the Treasurer has said is not payable by the owners of electric vehicles a hypothecated levy that can only be spent on roads, or is it in reality part of general revenue of the commonwealth?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): It's not a hypothecated fund as we have, for example, in relation to victims of crime levies or hospital funds in this state. Hypothecated funds, like the hospital funds, as I am sure the honourable member would know, in South Australia are real revenue, but they end up being part of the general budget equation. The fuel excise is the mechanism through which governments, in this case the federal government together with the states, maintain and upgrade roads throughout the nation.
The inevitable fact is that if we end up with 100 per cent of electric vehicles and there is no road user charge somebody has to pay for the maintenance of the roads that vehicles use. I am sure even the Hon. Mr Parnell would acknowledge, in his guarded comments that I have seen reported, where he says that maybe this should be done later on when we have a lot more electric vehicles, that he's not arguing, it would appear—and I will let him speak for himself—against the principle that if you are a road user you should make a contribution to the maintenance and upgrade of roads.
The PRESIDENT: Further supplementary, the Hon. Mr Parnell, and then I will go to the Hon. Mr Pangallo.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: If, as the Treasurer has admitted, it's not a hypothecated levy, how can he say that petrol excise pays for roads any more or less than company tax, personal income tax or any other form of government revenue pays for roads? It's in the mix, isn't it?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): I give the Hon. Mr Parnell some credit for being a relatively intelligent Greens member of parliament. Even he would understand that the funding that's being raised for a fuel excise is what has sustained road maintenance for decades.