Rego rebate scheme criticised as “too little, too late” for locals

A new scheme offering free vehicle registration for those paying more than $25 a week in tolls has been labelled "to little, too late" for locals.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced yesterday (November 20) that owners of standard privately registered cars, utes, four-wheel drives and motorcycles would be eligible for free vehicle registration if they spent more than $25 a week, on average, over a 12 month period on tolls.

The scheme is due to cone into effect from July 1 of next year.

“The majority of eligible motorists will save $358 a year on registration costs, with potential savings of up to $715 a year,” Ms Berejiklian said in a statement.

Penrith MP and Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the scheme would be backdated, so eligible motorists would enjoy free vehicle registration if they spend more than $25 a week from July 1 of this year.

However, Labor candidate for Penrith, Cr Karen McKeown, said she welcomed any announcement that cut costs for local residents but labelled the scheme “too little, too late” in light of imminent toll increases.

“What people are not aware of is that drivers will be slugged again with an increase to the tolls on January 1 – in 6 weeks – so any cost offsetting will be soon eroded,” she said in a statement to the Gazette

“Motorists will have to spend a minimum of $1,300 a year on tolls in order to qualify for the discount and there is no relief for business registered vehicles. 

“Western Sydney residents have already paid for this road and motorists will see this for exactly what it is. If the government thinks toll rage is a big issue wait until the new train timetable hits.”

Mr Ayres hit back at the comments, saying Labor “complains a lot but when it comes to actually doing anything they come up with a big fat nothing”.

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“This [new scheme] delivers a fair go for drivers who are paying their way on the toll road network which allows them to spend less time in their cars and more time at home,” he said in a statement.

“Labor introduced tolls on the M7 and M2 and offered no relief at all. The Liberals have managed the economy far better than Labor ever did and that allows us to build new roads, new hospitals, new rail lines and still put money back in the pockets of drivers.

“This delivers a fair go for drivers who are paying their way on the toll road network which allows them to spend less time in their cars and more time at home.”

“The Labor policy fraud has been completely exposed. They have no plan for new roads like the WestConnex tunnel under Parramatta Road, new rail like the North West Metro, no plan for Nepean Hospital and clearly no plan to help household budgets.”

But Londonderry MP Prue Car said locals would not forget Mr Ayres’ “betrayal”.

“Stuart Ayres is responsible for imposing this great big new tax on western Sydney,” she said in a statement.

“Penrith residents are fed up with the Minister Against Western Sydney who spends billions of dollars on stadiums in the eastern suburbs and ignores his community.

“The only winners out of this announcement are the fat cat toll operators who get richer and richer as we pay for this toll over the next 43 years.”

The scheme will apply to private drivers who regularly use e-toll on the M2, M4, M7, the Eastern Distributor, the Cross City tunnel, the Lane Cove tunnel, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Harbour tunnel and NorthConnex.

Drivers who use the M5 will continue to have access to the Cashback scheme.

Private motor vehicles weighing more than 2795kg, such as trucks, are not included in the scheme.