Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 16 February 2017) . . Page.. 643 ..
The implementation of the world-class projects I have spoken about today are all part of the government’s plan for a better, safer and more environmentally friendly maintenance of our roads. I look forward to seeing the future advances that this government will make in the area of road maintenance to improve our roads for Canberrans using road-based transport.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (4.52): I have the unusual pleasure today to be talking about a matter of public importance brought forward by the Liberal Party on what happens to be a Greens election initiative. We have one entitled “Better roads, not more roads: maintaining the roads we have.” Given the disagreements we sometimes have in this place about road and transport decisions, I am very pleased that we have an area of agreement.
The Greens are of the belief that Canberra does not actually need a lot more roads or a lot more traffic or cars. What we need to do is repair our existing roads and rebuild them so they do the job that they were meant to do. As a number of people have said, Canberra is recognised in general as having some of the best roads in the country, but it is a source of considerable frustration to most of Canberra that our roads are not in as good condition as they once were. Instead of fixing them, what we seem to have is the situation where the other two parties’ election commitments are to build more roads, not to look after the ones we have got. That was the big difference, I guess, between our approaches at the election.
We think that we need to look after the roads we have as the first priority as far as roads go. We do not think that we should be spending taxpayer dollars ripping up and laying down unnecessary infrastructure every election cycle. We need to look at what is really needed and spend our money where it is needed the most. As Ms Fitzharris mentioned, road maintenance, like health, is an area where prevention is better than cure. We would like to see the roads we have got looked after rather than see more unnecessary roads.
One area where maintenance is very much needed, as Mrs Kikkert mentioned, is footpaths. During the election campaign, I had the misfortune, you could say, to talk to two elderly constituents who had basically been reduced to not being able to go out because of the state of footpaths in their immediate vicinity, in the radius of 100 metres from home. They both talked to me about how they have broken various pieces of their anatomy. They were stuck at home. Maintaining our footpaths is something that we should be putting a high priority on. That is why one of the things in the Labor-Greens parliamentary agreement is additional money for active transport, including both construction and maintenance. We are falling badly behind in our maintenance of footpaths.
There is also our maintenance of cycleways. Just because bikes are not as heavy as cars does not mean that there is not wear and tear on the cyclepaths. There is, as anyone who uses them regularly will tell you. And potholes, particularly if you are on a path at night, where there almost certainly is no lighting, can be very dangerous. So I commend this topic to the Assembly and thank Mrs Kikkert for bringing it forward.