Melbourne city traffic night congestion

IN BRIEF: Governments should be tapping into the innate adaptability of human nature rather than funding large and unwieldy infrastructure projects, according to a report released last week by the Grattan Institute.

The recommendations include phasing out stamp duty, which stops people moving house, and introducing congestion charges, so that drivers are encouraged to avoid the most congested roads at peak times.

“We should be sceptical of ‘congestion-busting’ election pledges. Building new infrastructure is far from the only way to cope with population growth,” the report’s authors said.

The report pointed out that despite the scaremongering around migration rates and population growth, cities are generally able to adapt to these pressures.

This does not mean there are not pain points in Australia’s urban centres. To address these issues, the authors recommend more oversight and better controls on governments infrastructure investments, as well as making it easier for people to make their own decisions.

The recommendations are:

  • Stop penalising people for moving house
  • Stop locking out new residents from their preferred locations
  • Design and implement congestion pricing schemes for Sydney and Melbourne
  • Only spend public money on infrastructure that has been properly assessed
  • Devote more resources to identifying modest-sized transport projects
  • Adopt more realistic assumptions for cost-benefit analysis
  • Learn from experience of completed projects

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