Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 November 2009) . . Page.. 5185 ..
MR STANHOPE: Absolutely nothing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, but in the context where one is consulting on a multiplicity of issues where perhaps the issues or the interests of one group within a broader group produce a preponderance of responses, it is the role of government, surely, Mrs Dunne, to ensure that the interests of others are as affected by a particular consultation.
And we have it in relation to this. We are consulting on footpaths and cycle paths. The cycle lobby is strong and well organised and—this is the point of Ms Le Couteur’s question, quite rightly—the pedestrian lobby is not as strong and as well organised but potentially represents more citizens than does the cycling lobby.
MR SPEAKER: Ms Le Couteur, a supplementary question?
MS LE COUTEUR: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, in determining which parts of Canberra get residential footpaths either installed or upgraded, do you prioritise locations where there are bus stops, aged populations or children?
MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Ms Le Couteur. This is a quite vexed issue. Roads ACT has always been incredibly responsive to requests from members of the community for particular footpaths. The issue of footpaths is a difficult one and it has always been a difficult one for successive governments.
Policies in relation to footpaths changed, I think, around about the time of self-government. Since around the time of self-government—I do not have the precise date—governments have as a rule provided footpaths in new suburbs, in new developments. But, of course, our history and practice prior to self-government was that in a preponderance of locations, and perhaps in a majority of streets, footpaths were not provided.
Governments, most particularly since self-government, have been left with increasing numbers of demands by residents, by citizens, for footpaths in all of those streets in older suburbs that were not provided with footpaths at the outset. It is a difficult issue for government, not just in terms of the cost.
I am advised by Roads ACT that there are within the ACT or the Canberra city footprint just over 5,000 kilometres of footpaths. I am told that if they were stretched end on end, you could walk on a footpath from Canberra to Cairns. That is the extent of footpaths that have been constructed in the ACT, yet there are hundreds of streets, perhaps thousands of streets, that do not have a footpath.
It is enormously expensive to retrofit. There are some streets where it is virtually impossible as a result of the nature of the street—steep streets, reasonably steep sites, where there are mature, historic trees—for them to be retrofitted with a footpath without major remodelling and without cutting down significant numbers of trees.
MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter, a supplementary question?
MS HUNTER: Yes, Mr Speaker. Chief Minister, what has the ACT government done to audit and benchmark the walkability of Canberra so that we can measure