Page 1664 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008
and catch buses, we are not going to do all that much to change the equilibrium between the habit of driving and the protections we would like to see provided for our environment.
I turn to roads. The big hoo-ha over infrastructure and road funding in this budget is just that—a lot of noise about nothing. It is clearly the case that a fair amount of money has been allocated to roads, but there is no vision and there is no tying together of any form of overall road plan.
Yes, there is good money being spent here and there, but a lot of it is catch-up money. We do not see a strategic plan which would indicate where our roads are going to be upgraded to provide a better, more flowing service for the territory. We do not see that. There is no plan—no strategic plan. There is just money here and there—money which in some cases is badly needed on some of the roads, to be frank. For that we are grateful. We have an expensive, $26 million, two-lane GDE four years late and not able to cope with the commuting traffic of the future. And we have a failure to maintain all the other roads that have been in desperate need of upgrading.
The Tharwa Drive duplication has been trotted out for the third time, recycling and rehashing an earlier Stanhope government promise. By the way, that project was identified and budgeted by the previous Liberal government as one of its five-year road funding plans. The traffic problems of Gungahlin will not be fixed by duplicating Flemington Road, which will only see the dumping of more traffic onto Northbourne Avenue, which will struggle to cope with the extra volume of vehicles. The airport road project has been rolled over four times, from 2001 to 2005; dropped once, in 2006; and restored a fifth time, in 2008. The upgrade to Athllon Drive is another recycled, rehashed announcement that was promised in previous budgets. That was another five-year road funding plan identified by the previous Liberal government.
What does this illustrate? This illustrates the point that Zed Seselja, the Leader of the Opposition, made here today: how can you have any faith that this government are going to spend the boom that they have with their so-called infrastructure plan when their record in the past has been that they have not been able to implement what was already in the budget? Those two examples of roads in previous plans illustrate the point very clearly. We see a lack of forward planning, with no vision for the future needs of a growing city and its environment. When it comes to roads, there is no plan at all. There is no prioritised list—just a series of re-announcements on the same old, tired road projects.
We discussed Tharwa bridge in some detail before. Again, we are not going to see any real work done, and perhaps the bridge will not open before 2011. That will be about six years out from the time that the bridge was first closed and then re-opened. It remains baffling to me why this bridge cannot be partially opened. Perhaps that is the government’s plan. I would certainly like to see the government be a bit more forthcoming. They have been extremely quiet about the restoration project since they made the propaganda announcement a couple of months ago.
I turn to amenity. The amenity of the city is in a state of disrepair. The $100 million over five years promised in this budget simply catches up with the three years of