One of my favourite books growing up in late 1960’s Perth was The Magic Pudding – written and illustrated by Norman Lindsay. It was a road story with a rag tag bunch of very Australian characters trying to prevent an even motlier crew trying to steal their Magic Pudding.
The pudding (who was more cantankerous than the Gallagher brothers) would simply reform, no matter how much was eaten of it.
This brings me to the single largest misstep for owners and operators in Australia over the last 30 years – the introduction of a Parking Levy in NSW in 1992, which was simply a tax grab dressed up in a green mantle from a business sector that had little or no public support. It spurred Victoria and W.A to follow suit.
The NSW Parking Space Levy Act 1992 imposed a Levy on parking spaces within The Sydney and North Sydney CBD (Category 1 at $200 pr annum) and secondary areas including Chatswood, St Leonards and Parramatta (Category 2 at $100 per annum). It had the dual goal of discouraging car use and funding projects to encourage public transport.
The POA (comprising all the major parking operators) lobbied very hard against it, and gained one important concession in respect of vacant bays not being liable. The property industry split between retailers and commercial owners. The retailers Association managed far reaching concessions on retail carparks being exempt, except in Category 1.
This had (and has) been one of the most inequitable and illogical exemptions. For example in Chatswood the 190 bay Chatswood Interchange carpark underneath an office tower was paying Levy, although it was turning over less than 250 vehicles Monday to Friday.
Directly opposite Westfield Chatswood with over 3,000 bays turning over more than 15,000 cars a day, seven days per week was exempt. Anyone who has visited Chatswood on a weekend knows what real congestion is.
The POA tried to gain support for a complete lockdown of all Sydney CBD carparks – which would have had a minimal impact on congestion as they contributed to around 8% of the CBD traffic. Congestion in the Sydney CBD is primarily the result of through traffic, commercial traffic and traffic circulating the streets looking for on street parking bays, that are the preferred option for parkers – and the cheapest. On street bays are also exempt from Levy.
Unfortunately, there was little support for this quite radical and confrontational proposal.