The head of Australia’s competition watchdog believes consumers should pay more to use electricity, roads and airports during peak periods.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission boss Rod Sims has backed the idea of introducing “congestion pricing” on key infrastructure to boost productivity.
He says allowing business and governments to charge users according to supply and demand pressures would help make infrastructure more efficient.
“There are opportunities to enhance the productivity of certain key infrastructure assets such as roads, electricity, ports and airports by greater use of congestion pricing,” he said in a speech in Brisbane.
“All Australians understand why it costs more to rent a beach house in January than July. We just don’t call it congestion pricing.”
For example, Mr Sims said congestion pricing could see airlines charged more for take-off and landing slots during peak periods, and encourage electricity users to reduce consumption during critical demand periods.
He also backed the state and federal government moves to privatise infrastructure.
“With sound regulation the private sector will operate businesses more efficiently as they will have better incentives for, and impose fewer constraints on, performance,” he said.
Mr Sims said Australia’s productivity had suffered as a result of poor investment decisions in the past.
“It is clear that recently in Australia some poor infrastructure investment decisions, by commission and omission, have harmed national productivity.”