Page 765 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 26 February 2013

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Put very simply, parking in Canberra is a necessity, not a luxury, and should not be treated as such. Canberra families should not be penalised for using their cars just because we have a public transport system that does not cope with the needs of our growing city. Our parking needs should be addressed, not ignored. Once again, I would like to thank Mr Hanson for raising an issue that is a true matter of public importance.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (4.44): I will keep my comments brief as I know other members still wish to speak during the time available. It is important, of course, in thinking about the matter of public importance today—car parking in the ACT—that we recognise that car parking is a key piece of the city’s transport puzzle. Currently lots of people rely on parking, and at times some residents in the ACT experience frustrations in finding parking or paying for parking. Like other members, I receive these representations from constituents. I should note, however, that I also receive comments from constituents about the good quality of parking and roads in the ACT and I also receive comments that we should revise our approach to transport in Canberra with more of a focus on sustainable transport and less of a focus on roads and parking.

One of the Greens’ particular concerns has been transport opportunities in Canberra for people with disabilities. Sometimes these people are dependent on car transport, and the car can be very important for their social inclusion and access to services. It is these kinds of car journeys that should receive priority. Acknowledging this, last year the Greens lobbied for a higher percentage of disability car spaces in the ACT. This motion was not supported by either the ALP or the Liberals, which I found particularly surprising at the time.

In general, however, the ACT is well serviced in terms of its car parking spaces, just as it is for roads. I think it is generally acknowledged in the community—it certainly is by visitors to the ACT, and it is backed up by the evidence—that city parking remains significantly cheaper than that in any other Australian capital city. We provide a high proportion of parking spaces to jobs. The 2012 parking survey has identified that there is a 25 to 30 per cent vacancy rate in car parking across Canberra’s town centres.

While we acknowledge that some commuters feel some frustrations, the ACT Greens do not support reacting to this by creating floods of new car parks or by supporting every ad hoc proposal for more car parking. This appears to be the wish of some members. I think that is best summed up by Mr Coe’s motion from a few weeks ago which called on the government to simply “provide thousands more parking spaces”. This is possibly the epitome of bad parking policy. It is an approach that would more than likely have a negative impact overall on our great city.

We have to approach the issue of car parking carefully and with a considered and long-term view of how it impacts and shapes the development of our city. These impacts are often hidden, and unfortunately they can be detrimental to the city.

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