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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 132 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

The Gungahlin External Travel Study, conducted by the former NCDC and released in 1989, initiated the planning of the Gungahlin Drive extension to meet the transport demands of Gungahlin that was just beginning to be developed. This study was then reviewed by the Commonwealth Joint Parliamentary Committee on the ACT in 1991. The recommendations of the JPC report were quite clearly that a range of non-road options be implemented to lessen the need for car-based travel by Gungahlin residents before-and I stress "before"-consideration was given to building more arterial roads through North Canberra.

Such measures included: providing bus services to the new Gungahlin suburbs as soon as they were built; limiting the level of employment growth in Civic; encouraging commercial development and jobs in Gungahlin, Mitchell and Belconnen; implementing a detailed commuter cycleway strategy; introducing measures to increase the number of passengers per vehicle; and to spread peak traffic loads.

The committee also wanted an investigation of the development of a rapid transit system between Civic and Gungahlin. The previous government's response to this report was half-hearted at best, and at worst was quite contradictory. For example, the former government made no commitment to establish its own government offices in the Gungahlin town centre, but encouraged new employment outside of the town centres-for example Brindabella Business Park at the airport.

Under the previous government's zonal bus fare system, Gungahlin commuters pay double fares to travel to Civic. The former government also abandoned the earlier attempts to examine feasibility of light rail or alternative land transit systems in Canberra.

The Gungahlin External Travel Study and the JPC report also recommended that consideration be given to upgrading the Majura Road to act as an eastern ring road from Gungahlin to central Canberra, with a connection to the Monaro Highway and the southern parts of Canberra. Nobody seems to be opposed to this road, but the former government refused to bring forward the expenditure necessary to upgrade it.

What I find most appalling is that over the last 10 years there has been a policy vacuum within governments about how to comprehensively address the transport demands of Gungahlin. In the meantime, Gungahlin has been getting bigger and bigger, and more and more cars have been travelling through North Canberra streets, thus making the GDE seem like the only solution available to meet the transport demands of Gungahlin residents. In fact, the timing of the GDE has been brought forward from original estimates because of the huge reliance among Gungahlin residents on private vehicles.

My motion today is about making sure that the government does not continue to put off doing all the other measures that have been previously identified as necessary to give Gungahlin residents more choice in their transport options and to reduce the reliance on the Gungahlin Drive.

Canberra is really at a crossroads regarding how it deals with the transport demands of its growing population. I am very concerned that the continuing debate on the route of the Gungahlin Drive extension is taking the focus off the need to implement these other measures as soon as possible.

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