Page 3215 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 13 November 2007

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well as in our communal life. In July this year, the government issued a comprehensive climate change strategy that will guide our collective actions in the coming years. Today, I announce funding for a suite of initiatives to address climate change. More than $10 million in additional funding has been committed to implement actions set out in the climate change strategy—ranging from free bus travel for users of ACTION’s on-bus bike racks to $2 million a year over four years to improve the energy efficiency of public housing, the doubling of the free plant issue scheme, the first stages of a massive urban forest replacement program, $200,000 for tree planting, a community grants program and a carbon sequestration audit.

There is $2 million for the sports drought-proofing self-help scheme. There is $2 million for water demand management initiatives, including the installation of water saving devices in schools and public housing, and there is another $3 million for drought-proofing our parks and open spaces, which will see, among other things, the planting of drought-resistant grasses, the installation of computer-controlled irrigation systems and the installation of rainwater tanks at parks depots.

One aspect of our community life that is intimately connected not just with environmental sustainability but also with social sustainability is transport—in particular, public transport. Designing and delivering an efficient, effective and affordable public transport system in a town like ours has challenged successive governments of all political complexions.

I am determined that this will be the government that finally and comprehensively meets the challenge. It will never be possible to design a public transport system that meets the needs of every individual on every occasion, but we can do better, and we must do better. As I have indicated on a number of occasions in recent months, delivering a bus system that people want to use, that people will use, will be one of the government’s highest priorities over the coming year.

Today, I announce a package of transport funding, largely focused on our public transport system. Included is funding not just for major network improvements but for the essential infrastructure that supports the network. An all-new network, designed by international transport experts to better meet the demands of our expanding city and our changing demographics, will be finalised shortly, with the help of the community. Today, I announce $3.95 million in additional funding to implement the new network over the remainder of this financial year. The government is determined that the new network will achieve a 10 per cent enhancement in services, at the cost of an additional $20 million over the next four years. This is the challenge we throw down to ACTION.

The package of transport funding I announce today includes $310,000 over the remainder of this financial year and $2.3 million over four years to extend half-price bus travel for Canberra’s seniors into peak periods, and to operate a small fleet of minibuses to deliver on-demand community transport to Canberrans for whom access to the regular network is difficult or impossible. One million dollars will be spent on improvements to the safety and amenity of the Belconnen and Woden bus interchanges, including the installation of security cameras and the provision of additional seating.

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