Page 1814 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022

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I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (11.55): I rise today to speak to Minister Steel’s statement on key transport infrastructure projects. The ACT Greens are strong supporters of increased investment in our transport infrastructure across Canberra, but we also know that building more roads does not fix congestion and it does not work on our other big problems—climate change, equity and affordability. We need to help more people get out of their cars, and we cannot do that if we are building more roads that are simply going to get clogged up with more cars.

The ACT government, in the Moving Canberra 2019-2045 integrated transport strategy, set out the transport modal hierarchy. That identified that we give priority to pedestrians, then cycling, then public transport and freight, then ride sharing and taxis and, lastly, private car travel. But we are still spending a lot of our money on roads that are aimed primarily at private vehicle use. We really need to see a mode shift away from cars and towards public and active transport.

The rate at which we are spending money on road duplications shows that we are not really investing to match the goals that we set for ourselves. It is also not matching best practice transport policy and is not in line with what the IPCC are telling us now. They have moved into a new phase. They are telling us the science on climate change and they are also starting to tell us more clearly how we should deal with it. They are talking a lot about our city planning and urban management tools. They are talking about sustainable living and public and active transport. They are not talking about lots of road duplications.

I am pleased to see a lot of great content in the minister’s speech and in his recent work on public and active transport. I know he is a really big supporter. But we are still dedicating a huge chunk of our actual dollars to roads that we do not need. We have $1.3 billion in road-widening and duplication projects between 2020 and 2040 that are either complete or in the pipeline, and that is a huge chunk of dollars for the ACT government.

We know that some of those projects are unnecessary and that money could be better spent on active and public transport and on maintaining the infrastructure that we already have. We know that we need to spend a lot more on maintaining the roads we have already got, fixing our potholes and repairing our ageing path network. We have done some great work on doing an audit on the state of that path network. We are going to need a lot of funding to get that up to the mark, once we have a look at that.

Minister Steel has identified in his statement the massively escalated costs of new road construction. That is beyond our government’s control. There has been an increase in the material costs for all construction. There are general building and construction workforce shortages across Australia and there are capacity constraints for the delivery of Canberra’s infrastructure. All of these are real barriers and we cannot control them. It means it is an excellent time to reconsider planned road

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