The Daily Telegraph – Tuesday 15 February 2005

War on 4WD owners: should they pay more

By HAROLD SCRUBY, DEAN MELLOR

 

A Sydney council's ground-breaking decision last night to charge 4WD owners more for residential parking permits than motorists with smaller cars has divided the community
 

 

PARENTS picking their children up in 4WDs from North Sydney's Monte Sant' Angelo School slammed the increased parking permit fee for 4WDs, labelling it a tax.

 

Donna Schmalkuche, picking up her daughters in a Toyota Land Cruiser, said it was unfair and rejected North Sydney Council's justification.

 

“Other councils will want to do the same because it is a money-making scheme,” she said. “They know a lot of people have 4WDs.”

 

Warwick Armstrong was also critical of the increase, saying the marginally higher emissions from his Pajero did not justify the massive increase in residential parking fees.

“It is just another fundraiser,” he said.

 

“They have just come up with a means to justify it.”

 

THE CASE FOR - By HAROLD SCRUBY - Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman

IN Australia in 2002, cars contributed 43 million tonnes of carbon dioxide or equivalent greenhouse gases. Since 1990, this figure has increased by 28 per cent.

 

It is therefore the responsibility of all governments to do their best to reduce these emissions.

 

It follows that North Sydney Council is to be congratulated for placing higher residential parking fees on gas-guzzling 4WD behemoths.

 

Because of the favourable 5 per cent tariff (as opposed to 10 per cent for ordinary -- and safer and cleaner -- passenger vehicles), many motorists are selfishly choosing these monsters over your average car.

 

The mayors of Paris and London are trying to ban them or tax them from their cities. And Premier Bob Carr has announced there will be a variable environmental stamp duty rate on the registration of new vehicles - from zero for hybrids to up to 5 per cent on these gas guzzlers.

 

It's not only greenhouse emissions which are of concern. Many large 4WDs are also responsible for emitting a disproportional amount of air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, benzene and many others.

These pollutants can contribute to urban air quality problems as well as adversely affect human health.

 

Pollution is not the only problem caused by 4WDs in residential streets:

 

* PEDESTRIANS struck by a large 4WD are more than twice as likely to die as those hit by a saloon car travelling at the same speed;

* THEY take up more than their share of scarce urban parking space;

* THEY are responsible for approximately 75 per cent of child driveway deaths because of poor vision;

* THEY are up to 22 times more likely to kill the occupants of a small to medium-sized vehicle in a side-impact collision;

* THEY are two to three times more likely to roll over than ordinary passenger vehicles; and

* THEY take 10m further to stop at 60km/h and they handle appallingly.

So why wouldn't all responsible governments want to tax them off our residential streets?

 

THE CASE AGAINST - By DEAN MELLOR - Editor 4X4 Australia magazine

 

I WASN'T surprised about North Sydney Council's decision to introduce a sliding scale of fees for resident parking permits that would hit 4WD drivers in the hip pocket. After all, 4WDs have been discriminated against for years.

 

According to insurer AAMI, I am aggressive and arrogant, should have a special licence, and 70 per cent of road users don't feel safe sharing the road with me. All because I drive a 4WD. And now, if I lived in North Sydney, my local council would have it in for me, too.

 

It's been reported that one in five new vehicles sold is a 4WD. That figure is actually closer to one in four, once sales of 4WD utes are included.

 

So why have these vehicles become so popular? 4WDs are more practical than normal passenger cars: they have more space, more versatile interior packaging, often come with third-row seats, greater towing capacity, are easier to see out of, are safer for their occupants and offer better grip in slippery conditions.

 

I'd buy one over a normal passenger car even if I had no interest in off-road driving. But I do have an interest in off-road driving so, for me and many others, a 4WD is a necessity -- one that gives me the chance to experience all our beautiful country has to offer.

 

Even today, more than 60 per cent of the roads in Australia are unsealed. Sure I use my 4WD throughout the week for the daily urban commute, but I also use it to head out of town every opportunity I get.

 

I already pay a financial penalty for that freedom. My registration costs are higher and I pay more in fuel tax.

 

North Sydney Council claims that a key objective of its traffic strategy is to “minimise the impacts of private motor vehicles, including congestion, and air and noise pollution”. I say the council's traffic strategy is nothing more than a breach of my freedom to drive whatever vehicle I choose.

 

All new vehicles sold in Australia have to meet emissions legislation. In fact, a number of 4WDs exceed the Australian standards and achieve the tougher Californian Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle standards.

 

A vehicle isn't a dirty polluter simply because it has a transfer case and drive to all four wheels.

 

Caption:  We're not happy ... Donna Schmalkuche picking up daughters Sophie, 8, Emma, 13 and Eva, 15, from school yesterday in her 4WD. Picture: ADAM WARD
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