Conference paper
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Road pricing might seem a great idea but the accepted wisdom is that it will never happen in Australia or New Zealand. However, moves have been afoot in Auckland and Melbourne since the early 2000s to consider schemes for both cities. In Auckland the national and regional governments are now committed to the first stage of implementation: scheme design. Tentative steps are also being taken by Infrastructure Victoria to assess a scheme for Melbourne and the Australian federal government supports the idea. The accepted wisdom is being challenged. Much has been written about road pricing but there is considerable confusion about pricing and the merits of reforms. This paper reviews the development of road pricing policies in Australia and New Zealand focusing on the current work being undertaken in Melbourne and Auckland. It places these policy developments within a theoretical framework provided by neoclassical economics to explain the case for policy change including the question of equity. However, policy may be less shaped by rational deliberations rather than through the exercise of power, in this case through control over the allocation of transport funds. The paper considers how pricing reform may change the balance of power between regional and central governments in relation to the prioritisation and selection of transport investments.

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