Page 2975 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022

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While there has been a lot of rain lately—in fact, there has been a lot of rain for the last few years; we all know that—and it does affect the number of potholes on roads, this is not the only factor. The government has not been delivering the proactive road maintenance that is required in the warmer months to improve ACT roads. In a Canberra Times article back in September, the Chief Executive of the Australian Road Research Board shared his insights on the state of ACT roads. He said:

From my observation, the ACT road network is in a poor condition …

The professional engineers in the roads department know that. They are very capable and competent people but the evidence is that the road system is deteriorating, and ordinary drivers are seeing that …

So, colleagues, it is a failure to properly maintain, refresh and resurface our roads. We are seeing a bit of a bandaid solution, and we need to do better. I have written to the minister on a number of occasions about road repairs and potholes. These concerns have come from residents in the electorate of Brindabella, who have seen potholes that have been attended to worsen, recur and further damage the road, getting bigger and bigger. These concerns seem to get fobbed off by the minister.

We all know that you should not be out trying to fix the roof on a rainy day, but that is the approach that this Labor-Greens government is taking on our roads—out there trying to fix our roads on a rainy day, filling potholes on a rainy day, rather than taking a more proactive and longer lasting approach.

Earlier this year, we heard reports that the number of complaints about potholes had dramatically increased in recent years, with the government receiving 3,028 pothole complaints through Access Canberra from 1 January to 6 October 2021. That is 2.3 times more complaints compared to 2020, and over three times more than in 2019. During the recent estimates hearings it was revealed that the ACT government is paying out tens of thousands of dollars to motorists in claims for damage from potholes in 2022 alone.

The ACT government has already paid out 50 pothole-related claims so far in 2022, up from a total of 40 in the previous year and 16 in the year before that. This is a waste of taxpayers’ money. This is money that could and should have been used earlier in road maintenance. I do not blame residents for claiming that damage. In fact, in a way, I encourage them to do that because it is indicative of the poor approach to road maintenance by this government.

Maintaining safe roads is exactly the sort of service for which people pay their rates, yet the government are failing to the point where they have to hand ratepayers’ money back to them because their vehicles have been damaged due to government failure. It is a bit embarrassing that, here in Canberra, the nation’s capital, this is the sort of activity for which we are getting known. Earlier this week, I heard that the social media page Canberra Potholes was the top item in the news in Perth. We are becoming a laughing stock around the nation. We are supposed to be the capital of Australia, yet we cannot get basic municipal services right.

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