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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3006 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Another secret tax in this budget is the imposition of parking fees at the Belconnen and Tuggeranong town centres. Whilst the opposition has been critical of this measure, it should be noted that the focus of that criticism has been, again, the way that the government has gone about implementing this proposal. There is no doubt that the government has been sneaky and kept these additional parking fees secret until the last possible moment. The Labor voters in Tuggeranong and Belconnen have been conned, well and truly conned.

Once again the government, following its familiar pattern, is trying to pass off these parking fees as something they are not, only this time it has been caught out. The proof of that is in the government's response to the Estimates Committee report. During budget week, the government claimed that these new parking fees have something to do with sustainable public transport, yet its response to the Estimates Committee report shows that they do not. It shows that the government is making up the story as it goes along.

I refer members to the government's response to recommendation 51 of the Estimates Committee report. The recommendation states:

The committee recommends that, before introducing paid parking into Belconnen and Tuggeranong, a parking study be conducted and the impact on businesses be analysed formally.

Normally, this would be considered a rather strange recommendation, except that the decision to introduce parking fees obviously had been made before a parking study had been done. The government confirmed that in its response, saying:

Detailed implementation planning will be undertaken before paid parking commences from early-mid 2003. This will include consultation with stakeholders and an analysis of the impact on businesses. A consultant to assist with this task is expected to be appointed shortly.

Mr Speaker, not only was no study done before the decision was made but also, to make matters worse, the government has admitted to having made the decision before consultation with stakeholders had taken place. Clearly, the government has started with the answer and has been caught out working backwards to see what was the right question, without having done any consultation. What this does to the government's credibility, I will leave for individual members to decide.

Some members have referred to the introduction of paid parking at these two town centres as being an equity issue-if Woden and Civic have them, why shouldn't Tuggeranong and Belconnen have them, too? Of course, this argument does not make sense. How can you commit to a regime of equity when there is no information on the table? By his own admission, the minister does not yet have such basic information as why people park where they do, how long they park there and what impact paid parking will have on local businesses.

It would be foolish for the government to assume that all town centres are the same, because they are not. In Tuggeranong there is an additional wild card in parking for Lake Tuggeranong College. Whilst the minister assured the Estimates Committee that he would provide adequate parking for the staff and students of the college, he was not able

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