Page 3070 - Week 08 - Thursday, 7 August 2008
its completion date is unacceptable. Gungahlin is the fastest growing area of the ACT and, indeed, one of the fastest growing areas in Australia. It is impossible to argue that it was unforeseeable that a very large volume of traffic would need to use that road each day. The government was profiting from the large amounts of land that were sold, and concerns were being raised regularly by constituents. I attended a meeting at Hackett where an official of Roads ACT was in attendance, and who is here today, and it was even causing distress to people in suburbs such as Watson and Hackett, as people ended up finding other ways to get into town because of the problems on this road in peak time.
After the road had opened, I was still receiving a large number of representations from my constituents. I remember one person—I think it was a federal Treasury official—describing a 40-plus-minute journey from her home in Gungahlin to work in Barton. Whilst this was anecdotal evidence that the road as it was constructed was not adequate to cater to the needs of the community, there was clear, immediate and widespread dissatisfaction with the state of play once the road opened. The people of Gungahlin do deserve better than a single-lane road in and out of their region.
Although it was poorly planned, I am not quite as convinced as the Liberal Party that the construction process itself was poorly managed. I do take the points made by the minister during question time about the delays that occurred in the initial construction of the road. It is almost inevitable with any major projects that there will be unexpected issues or problems that crop up. These are not necessarily the fault of the government of the day. However, in relation to the GDE specifically, I have no doubt that the ACT government erred in not planning a two-lane road in each direction from the outset, especially given that the anticipated population figures in that area were well known to the government as the principal vendor of land in this territory. It was, in fact, a poorly considered decision.
I have argued all year, both publicly and in the estimates process, that the most important thing for the people of Canberra was not to dwell on this mistake, although it is worth noting, but to ensure that it is not repeated. The most important thing for the people of the ACT was for the government to commit to duplicating the road without delay. When you talk about not repeating mistakes, when I lived in Wanniassa back in the late seventies—
Mr Hargreaves: A great suburb.
MR MULCAHY: It is a great suburb but it was right on the fringe of Canberra when I moved there. One of the striking things was exactly what happened in Gungahlin, where we created a dormitory environment. Down there, I remember there used to be telephone exchanges and playgrounds, and vast tracts of empty land. We build these areas and we do not think through all the needs of the community. I know that you cannot create a metropolis overnight, but certainly the people of Gungahlin are rightly concerned that many of the things that they might reasonably expect, given the fact that there are in the order of 50,000 people in that area, simply have not been provided. A 24-hour police station has been announced this week. That is massively overdue. Given the level of crime and robbery on building sites, with workmen’s equipment being stolen, that should have happened much earlier.