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VIC Is the Motorcycle Levy legitimate?

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' started by Nightowl, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. Hi,

    One of the five purposes of the Road Safety Act is to ensure the equitable distribution of costs of road use.

    In view of this, is it equitable to force a minority road user group to pay an additional cost (levy) that other road users are not subject to for things like:

    - Improving roads (benefits all road users, they’re not ‘motorcycle only’ roads)
    - Improving driver (car) awareness
    - Enforcement
    - Enhancing information for the bureaucracy; etc

    My initial reaction to this was no, it’s not. This levy is not part of an equitable distribution of road use costs within the community.

    If it is not equitable, is the levy therefore legitimate or does it contravene the Road Safety Act?

    If it is equitable, how so?

    I realise the levy has been covered many times before, but have not seen this aspect addressed.

    Was interested to see your thoughts.

  2. 2 areas that piss me off, improving roads and enforcement.
    I don't pay a levy so that I can be harassed off the fukkin roads that I have PAID for.
  3. If you can get a government to give you a binding definition of 'equitable', good luck to you.
  4. I believe their claim is, because M/C's make up a greater percentage of 'cost' to their coffers as a road user segment, we should be made to carry a greater financial contribution that reflects that. Very hard to argue against.

    The fact it's bullshit how the money is used/distributed is a different kettle of fish. Easier to argue against but still difficult to prove. Without the evidence of misappropriation then it just becomes a complaint.
  5. I just assumed that the levy went to Monash so they can make up statistics to support whatever road group the govt wants to penalise next.
  6. Even if this tax wasn't "equitable" you can bet your sprockets that the government, when creating the levy, or indeed, any tax, will have ensured that it was legit legally.

    Of course, we're welcome to test it in the High Court of Australia...

  7. I would suggest that given most riders also own a car, they contribute more than sole car owners, and while the car sits at home when they ride and ease traffic congestion, it helps matters further, yet already at greater expense to the majority of car owning riders.

    It might be worth noting that the portion of a State's share of GST collected on fuel is probably that bit less on average thanks to bikes. Maybe someone in Vic worked out that it roughly equates to $50 a year times the number of bikes on the road.

    Possibly there's also the (preceived or real) shortfall in speed camera revenue as well.
  8. Does the levy go toward road improvements and enforcement? I didn't think it did but admit I am not certain. TonyE should know.

    Improving driver awareness may well be a beneficial way to improve motorcycle safety. Although without forcing every driver to become a rider, I am buggered if I know how it would work short of paying a passanger to sit behind drivers and wack them about the ears with a sledge hammer every time their attenion lapsed.
  9. Have heard that one already. Sounds like ... the ring of cash registers. :wink:
    But even gvt (supposedly) is bound by Acts/law.

    The current lot in power previously agreed that the Levy wasn’t equitable, eg. here and/or here.

    Heheh ... like Vic Gvt mandating ADR’s in advance of Fed Gvt rollout (setting a precedent that Fed failed to overturn) – bullying something through doesn’t equate to legit or “fair” (equitable) - so with that in mind I intend to hang on to my teeth for a while to come yet. :wink:

    Contribute more to the coffers ... agree. (y)


    - 74% funds allocated to roads (fixing black spots etc, a 2007 figure.) Total now 139 motorcycle blackspots treated. Here’s a VicRoads report singing the Levy’s praises.

    -about 19% to education (also back in 2007). Note: this involves funds spent on educating car drivers ie. investigating ways to train car drivers to be more aware; improve hazard awareness of car drivers , research into perceptual approach to train car drivers to give way at intersections and so forth . Here’s one list of approved projects.

    - Enforcement: In Jan ’09 a 2 year “community policing & enforcement” program was launched. Under this initiative, 5 major state-wide enforcement operations are being conducted each year, complemented by a further 10 regional operations annually. This also involves “educating drivers” to be aware of motorcyclists.

    ** Smee, I agree.
    Wokwon, that too.

    \\:D/ ... 8-10yo’s would be good at that.

    Thanks, Cheffie :grin: – yes ... but I’ll have to come back a little later on this as I’ve run out of time for the mo’ & do have some thoughts on what you’ve mentioned.

    3 separate aspects:
    1. It’s legitimacy
    2. The merits of what it’s spent on
    3. Misappropriation (a different matter altogether if applicable).
  10. Bearing in mind that the terms of reference for the levy definitely include enforcement, the only enforcement is the Community Education and Policing programme - nothing goes on equipment at all.

    Road improvements have been generally aimed at specifically motorcycle areas, including the GOR, Great Alpine Way and others. Not all roads put to VMAC have been recommended to the Minister by VMAC - there's often been a lot of debate and a lot of questions asked about some of the proposals.

    You can find details of the on-road stuff up to 2009 on the VicRoads VMAC web site.

    The Yarra Ranges and Melbourne ones are here.

    The biggest problem I have with the levy (apart from its existence) is the fact that it now seems to be the only money spent on motorcycles. In other words, apart from dubious TAC advertising (which isn't paid for by the levy, despite what some people claim) the only money spent comes directly from riders. In fact, the original intent was to supplement the money normally spent by VicRods by paying for additional motorcycle safety initiatives. It wasn't intended to replace the money already spent.

    Yes it is legitimate (in the sense of being quite legal) - moral legitimacy is different.
    What it's spent on is a fair argument
    It all gets spent on motorcycling issues - so it's not misappropriated in that sense, however see my comments above.
  11. Once upon a time Motorists died in such numbers that motorcycle fatalities looked at about the "right" proportion.

    Motorcycle fatalities have dropped significantly (halved in real terms in the last decade), but motorist fatalities have dropped away much much faster due to fundamental redesign of cages and all their safety features. We're now an unavoidable part of the overall statistics and someone has decided that the 13 - 15% of the road toll is simply unacceptable and it must be driven down.

    Motorcycle fatality reductions have occurred in Australia ostensibly as as a result of better training. This CANNOT be said to be the same for drivers. This makes me think that the VZ boffins have got it all wrong - if technology is the solution, then applying technology to bikes isn't the answer, applying MORE technology to cars is. They should be looking at this: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/03/09/prweb5142064.DTL It's a cager & bike system that warns cagers of approaching motorcycles.

    Anyway, back to the levy.

    Edit: actually, back to the warning system... I wouldn't want it. It takes things even more into the direction of switching off the driver's brain...
  12. ... given target fixation is not addressed in any car driver learner/licensing material here in Oz (that I've yet seen), does this mean that with ABS, ESC etc cars will be even better at colliding with fixed objects, eg. trees, poles etc? 8-[

    Noting, there's a higher national rate of single vehicle (car) collisions than collisions with other vehicles, whereas for motorcyclists it's the reverse. (ABS)

  13. Thanks for expanding on that, Tony.

    In terms of the levy being legitimate, do you know the specific reason/justification given for it being considered a fair/equitable imposition at the time it was first put in place in light of point (d) in Purposes section of Road Safety Act 1986?

    Or whether this point in the Act was even considered when the concept for the Levy was first implemented?
  14. It cannot be legal if it is contrary to the Road Safety Act. This view is nothing new either.


  15. I went and read about that system... I really don't want it in that form.

    A motorcycle equipped with a MWS unit will transmit its position, velocity, and a unique identification code to all automobiles which are also equipped with a MWS unit.

    If it was implemented, guess which cars would be the first to get it!
  16. I wasn't involved at the time it was implemented but my understanding is that since motorcycles have a dispropotionate number of crashes then this could be construed as we need to bear a greater amount of the costs. It's certainly an argument that could be used.

    However, given this argument - how is it that cyclists have a disproportionate amount of money spent on them with no direct contribution? Surely this would be illegal as well in that case.
  17. Yep, bad idea on lots of levels. Scratch my idea. Totally.
  18. However, that's not to say that all ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) proposals are flawed.

    The "blind spot" detector that Volvo (and others) have as an option is certainly worthwhile and another vehicle detection system for intersections possibly has merit. Basically the proposal is to detect a vehicle approaching an intersection and to light up a display of some kind on the cross streets.

    Of course the cynic in me says that that would eventually be coupled with a speed detector and a camera and... :rolleyes:
  19. Tony, I don’t understand the logic here - why would the expenditure on bicycles be illegal?

    The point under Purposes in the Act refers to the equitable distribution of costs among road users – not equitable expenditure on road user groups.

    Although the spend on, for example, some bike lanes in and around Melbourne would perhaps fail to comply with:

    (a) to provide for safe, efficient and equitable road use;

    as the inclusion of bike lanes on certain roads (eg. Chapel St, St Kilda) has made them less safe etc for other road users.

    The point being that a minority road user group has been singled out to be charged a levy over and above usual charges – no other road user group has. In a nutshell, the Levy doesn’t appear to comply with the Act, is discriminatory and consequently (I’d have thought) not legitimate.

    Thanks, Justus - this is as I thought.
  20. Thanks Chef & Tony.

    ‘k, taking a look at this business of 'disproportionate' number of crashes and costs.

    Risk profiles for motorcycles are already factored into the majority of components used to assess and calculate the TAC charge, ie. it's calculated according to the:

    • type of vehicle
    • registered owner
    • intended use
    • seating capacity
    • carrying capacity
    • garaged location

    The TAC charge is used for treatment and support services for people injured in transport accidents – not wear and tear on roads etc. So all of the above components should have a risk factor pertaining to potential for injury, eg. the bigger the vehicle the more people it can injure and/or kill etc the higher the charge.

    For example, the registration fee on my car is greater than my bike – to be expected.
    However, the TAC charge on my bike (LAMS approved 650 cruiser, not subject to the levy) is $22 higher than my car, even though more people can be seriously or fatally injured via my car, be they passengers in my car or other road users.

    So while it appears (to me) that something’s out of kilter in the risk profile applied to vehicles, it would also appear this business about “disproportionate accidents” etc insofar as motorcycles are concerned is already being factored into the TAC charge ... before we even arrive at considering the Levy.

    The Levy doesn’t go towards treatment and support services but it is still a compulsory road user cost – if a motorcyclist doesn’t pay it, they don’t get registered and therefore are not legally entitled to use their motorcycle on public roads.

    This looks like a convoluted justification to me, and I still haven’t grasped why a rate per 10,000 has been used. An attempt I’m guessing to equalize quantities (and perhaps artificially inflate figures). The fact that there are not equal numbers of motorcycles and passenger cars registered (or licence holders) is significant in terms of the profile/visibility of motorcyclists on the road which feeds into issues contributing to road toll.

    And why use registrations? Are regos used to give an indicative number of vehicles on the road at any one time? If that’s the case how are company fleet vehicles, hire cars (sitting unused), buses, trucks etc filtered out and reconciled. What about commuters – people who leave the car at home? What of those with more than one vehicle? And what about fluctuations of interstate vehicles on the road?

    I’d have thought licences a more appropriate base-line to relate back to. There’s only one issued (& endorsed as needs be). Still tricky I guess when it comes to dual+ licence holders, if included in more than one group means comparing self against self.

    Some rough comparisons: there’s approx. 3 million total licence holders in Vic.

    -3 year average of car occupants (2008/09/10) = 193 av = 0.006% (of total 3m).
    -3 year average of motorcyclists (2008/09/10) = 43 av = 0.001% (of total 3m).

    So 0.005% more are fatally injured in a passenger car than on a motorcycle in Victoria.

    Serious injuries:
    -3 year average of car occupant (2006/07/08) = 4,985 av = 0.17% (of 3m)
    -3 year average of motorcyclists (2006/07/08) = 980 av = 0.03% (of 3m)

    So 0.14% more are seriously injured in a passenger car than on a motorcycle.

    Motorcyclists make up about 3.7% of registered vehicles on the road and 11% of licence holders.

    Comparing the passenger car group of roughly 2,129,218 licence holders (using national % excluding dual licences allocated to other groups, eg buses, trucks etc & m/cycles) to the motorcycle group 325,977:

    -3 year average for car occupants = 193 av. = 0.009% (of 2,129,218)
    -3 year average for motorcycle = 43 = 0.013% (of 325,977)

    0.004% differential .

    Serious injury:
    -3yr average for car occupant = 4,985 av = 0.23% (of 2,129,218)
    -3 year average for motorcycles = 980 av = 0.30% (of 325,977)

    A 0.07% differential.

    But comparing these groups like this is like chalk n cheese.

    Given registrations and licences don’t apply for pedestrians, car passengers, and bicycles then all fatalities and serious injuries for those groups are significantly “over-represented” as these base-lines for comparison is 0. Or is it something else?

    - Pedestrian fatalities greatly out-numbered motorcyclist fatalities over the past 10 years (higher in every year except 2)
    - Car passenger fatalities and serious injuries far outnumber motorcyclists.
    - Car occupant (driver & passenger) and pedestrian fatalities and injuries eat far more of the TAC pie than motorcyclists.

    What is a proportionate number of crashes for motorcyclists to have?

    For example, I wouldn't have thought 0.013% (fatalities) of 11% (licence holders) or 0.3% (serious injuries) of 11% disproportionate.

    Fatalities have been reducing yet the average claim size has increased significantly over past couple of years, eg. 2009 increased approx $5k; 2010 by approx $7k and new claims continue to grow.

    On the question of TAC’s profitability that gets raised in relation to this from time to time, the TAC dividends paid to VicGov in recent years:

    - $0 dividend paid in ‘10
    - $139.3 million dividend paid in ’09. (35% of performance from insurance operations, profit after tax)
    - $133 million dividend paid in ’08. (In 2008 dividend changed from 50% of profit after tax to 35%)
    - $302 million dividend paid in ‘07
    - $232 million dividend paid in ‘06
    - $295 million dividend paid in ‘05

    Merit & misappropriation I’ll come back to ... but if the Levy is not legitimate in the first place I have difficulty seeing how the allocation of any of it to any project has merit.


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