Balance of power independent Geoff Shaw has hit out at a government plan for free inner city tram travel, declaring: ''I am not one for socialism''.
Instead Mr Shaw told Parliament this week he was in favour of a user pays system, arguing the change would exacerbate the problem of crowded trams.
''I am just highlighting my concern about socialism,'' Mr Shaw said. ''I catch trams. Around the city they are already pretty full. I do not know how we can encourage more people to use trams now that they are free. A user pays system is probably more what I am after.''
Both sides of politics are promising to cap fares across Melbourne's transport network at zone 1 rates, with the $100 million annual cost to be funded in the May 6 budget.
That means there is no danger the changes will not be passed if any legislative changes are required.
Mr Shaw said although lower fares were to be applauded, he was worried about an ''expectation'' mentality developing, warning that those who did not use public transport would have to bear the cost.
''If the infrastructure is there and is costly, who is subsiding it? It is me and other people who drive who are paying more in fuel excise and state taxes.''
Mr Shaw is showing an increasing willingness to question government legislation. Last week he secured valuable concessions for poker machine venues. He also won improvements to help his local taxi service in Frankston.
Josh Gordon is The Age's state political editor. After a brief period in the Sydney banking world and the federal bureaucracy, Josh spent six years working as The Age's economics correspondent at Parliament House in Canberra. After cutting himself adrift to travel the world, he was lured back to reporting early in 2007. Most recently he has worked as The Sunday Age's politcal editor, based in Canberra, and The Age's state economics correspondent in Melbourne.
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