Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 October 2022) . . Page.. 2976 ..
Let us not forget that it was this minister who promised, during the 2020 election campaign, in October 2020, that ACT Labor would spend $4 million on fixing every pothole on territory roads if re-elected. Four million dollars can fix a lot of potholes—every single pothole, they said, on territory roads. He must have been laughing when he came up with that one. Firstly, it demonstrates that potholes were an issue years ago, not just this year and last year. Potholes have been an ongoing issue for quite some time. The Labor-Greens government must give residents a plan for how they are going to reduce the amount of ratepayers’ money being spent on pothole-related claims. Residents deserve a plan; they need to know that the government will stop wasting residents’ money because of its failure to deliver these basic municipal services.
We have seen these social media pages, the memes and all sorts of things, where people are laughing about potholes. Quite frankly, Mr Deputy Speaker, if you are not laughing, you are probably crying. When you go over one of those giant holes in the road and hear the big thump, and you either fear or know that your tyre and your rim have been damaged and your hubcap is rolling off down the road, you feel pretty upset and angry. For most people, their car is their single most valuable asset after their home—perhaps not for everyone, although some of the Greens own a few homes. Your car is an important asset on which you have spent a lot of money. Let us face it, how many people have 400 or 800 bucks sitting around, just to hand over for the repair of their car? It is a big outlay for the average person, and they should not have to do that.
If the government admitted that the approach they have been taking to road maintenance is a bit lazy and reactive rather than proactive, Canberrans might feel a bit better about it. Instead, they are experiencing the consequences of years of negligence. The government must change their approach so that we can finally reduce the number of potholes on ACT roads and stop handing out ratepayers’ money senselessly. But what I anticipate will happen is that, perhaps a week or two out from the next election, we may get another announcement of a few more million dollars to fix our potholes, rather than the longer term, better maintenance program that I have been talking about today. Starving the area of money and then announcing a blitz on it is the pattern of this government, and they expect us to be grateful for it when they come out with millions of dollars to fix something that should have been fixed long ago. I commend my motion to the Assembly.
MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (4.27): Let me start by acknowledging the hard work of ACT road crews in what are very difficult and unpredictable conditions at the moment. Our Roads ACT crews are working around the clock, every day of the week, to provide the ACT community with a safe and reliable road network.
It is no secret that there has been an increase in damage to our roads. Two years of heavy rainfall, directly caused by two successive La Niña weather patterns over multiple years, exacerbated by climate change, have led to an increase in the occurrence of potholes and other defects on our roads. Annual rainfall during 2020 and 2021 was 45 per cent above average. This weather is forecast to continue into 2023, based on forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology.