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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . .

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Wednesday, 10 February 2016

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) (Autonomous Vehicle Trials) Amendment Bill 2016

Mr Coe, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR COE (Ginninderra) (10.01): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Canberra Liberals believe that autonomous vehicles will be a vital component of the future of transport in Canberra. The legislation I have presented today provides for the safe and legal testing of autonomous vehicles in Canberra. It is the first step to allowing autonomous vehicles to drive on our roads.

The reality in Canberra is that we are a dispersed city. The very attributes which make this city the garden city, with so much open space and nature on our doorstep, also provide a significant challenge for transportation. This reality is starkly presented in the ACT government's proposed light rail project. Despite many hundreds of millions of dollars in proposed expenditure and 12 kilometres of track between Gungahlin and the city, just a few per cent of Canberra's population are within walking distance. In fact, in the vast majority of cities in the world, it would be nearly impossible to build a line of track for 12 kilometres in an urban area and serve a smaller portion of the population. The truth is that our city has been designed for private transportation, that is, vehicles that go from point A to point B at the demand of the driver.

Autonomous vehicles are an exciting prospect and something that we in Canberra should be excited about. Imagine a city where people are not disadvantaged because of where they live. Imagine a city where people with disabilities have access to reliable, on-demand and affordable transportation 24/7. Imagine a city where people do not need to own cars or have garages because they can book an autonomous vehicle from their club or cooperative. Imagine vehicles knowing definitively the optimal route and time of travel in order to maximise efficiency. Imagine a city that needs only a fraction of the number of cars because of the high utilisation of each autonomous vehicle. Imagine a time when considerably less car parking is required because autonomous vehicles continue to travel on another journey after that first journey is complete. All of this is very much a reality.

The former corporate vice president of research and development at General Motors in the United States said:


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