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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 562..


MR PRATT (continuing):

While we do, of course, see things maintained to a basic standard, this place is by no means kept to the standard that it should be, and once was. In fact, in many cases things are deteriorating. One only has to look at the growing number of shopping trolleys littering the streets or the prolific graffiti covering almost every wall or the out-of-control long grass or the abandoned and trashed cars or the rubbish up and down our highways to see that under this government the basic standards of cleanliness have indeed declined.

But those things are at the lower end of the scale in terms of this government's lack of commitment to the urban environment. What is more concerning is their lack of commitment to the ongoing maintenance and improvement of the larger infrastructure in the city: the roads, the streetlights, the footpaths, the ovals, the recreational cycle paths and all the other things that are fundamental to a vibrant and fully functioning urban environment. Last year, at the annual report hearings, the Minister for Urban Services, Mr Hargreaves, said:

The people of Canberra deserve to have a city looking at its best and deserve the best municipal services in the country.

I agree with the minister. We do deserve the best. At least every community thinks it does, but we certainly do not have it under this current government. What the minister says is not strongly reflected in this government's actions. With the Stanhope government's propensity to throw millions of dollars into unnecessary and non-urgent priorities like busways and arboretums, we see in contrast the running down of minimal financial commitment to the maintenance and upgrade of existing infrastructure. I would like to highlight in more detail the areas where this government needs to refocus its priorities in order to win back the confidence of the Canberra community and in order to reflect the claims of the urban services minister that Canberrans do deserve the best.

Roads are one of our most obvious elements of urban infrastructure, yet we continue to see priority in road projects put on the backburner due to this government's overspending in other areas. Yesterday on ABC radio Mr Hargreaves said that planned improvements to Pialligo Avenue had been scrapped due to the $20 million blow-out in costs to the Gungahlin Drive project. Not only has Pialligo Avenue now been indefinitely shelved but also funding for other roads such as Tharwa Drive and Majura, Sutton and Boboyan roads has suffered the same fate.

Canberrans have a screaming need for these and other roads to be upgraded, yet we continually see these types of projects put on the backburner due to this government's failure to properly manage its capital works budget. Amazingly, however, the Stanhope government has managed to continue to promote and commit millions of dollars in funding to its proposed Belconnen to Civic busway. On radio this morning the planning minister, Simon Corbell, seemed quite proud of the fact that this project-at least in his mind-is going ahead, citing it as an investment in Canberra's future.

But the real investment in Canberra's future would be to ensure that our current infrastructure is up to scratch and to ensure that our community's pressing need for upgrades to existing roads and other infrastructure is met. Unfortunately, this government would rather see our existing roads go to pot than take funding away from


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