8 June 2023

Is the ACT Government 'anti-car, anti-family'? The Canberra Liberals think so

| James Coleman
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Classic cars

Will all internal combustion engine cars soon be ‘historic vehicles’? Photos: James Coleman.

The ACT Government has rejected claims its plans to hold a car-free day in September and establish a zero-emission zone in the city by 2030 are “anti-car”.

Canberra Liberals Shadow Minister for Transport Mark Parton moved a motion in the Legislative Assembly this week calling on the government to “stop pursuing its anti-car, anti-family agenda”.

He pointed to several policy announcements as proof “Labor and Greens want to get you out of the driver’s seat no matter the consequences”.

These include the ACT’s proposed end date for registering new fossil-fuel-powered cars in 2035, changes to the construction code allowing apartment developers to build fewer parking spaces, and plans to hold an event around World Car Free Day on 22 September.

Following a motion by Labor backbencher Suzanne Orr in early May, Canberra will also become the first city in Australia to sign up to the C40 Cities ‘Green and Healthy Streets Accelerator’. This calls for the government to “designate a significant area of the city as zero emission by 2030” and “procure only zero-emission buses from 2025”.

READ ALSO Canberra Business Chamber says Calvary takeover exposes ACT to ‘sovereign risk’

“These anti-car policies tend to have a high impact on families with children who often need a private car for multiple pick-up and drop-off points, as well as lower socio-economic Canberrans and those with a disability,” Mr Parton said.

“It is astounding the government continues to push an anti-car agenda while at the same time being responsible for one of the worst performing public transport systems in the country.”

Chief Minister Andrew Barr described the attacks as “university politics” and affirmed the ACT Government “is not banning the use of petrol and diesel vehicles” any time soon.

“What we do want to do is provide choice and opportunity for Canberra to take up zero emissions vehicles and other sustainable modes of travel, like public transport, walking and cycling,” he said.

“What we are proposing to support is an information opportunity for people to look at other forms of transport. Now, that may involve some temporary street closures in one area of the city to enable things to be tested and tried, but it’s not a city-wide ban on car usage.”

Andrew Barr and Chris Steel

Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Minister for Transport Chris Steel said the car-free day would be more of an “active-travel-promotion day”. Photo: James Coleman.

Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury has previously told Region the final design of Canberra’s car-free day is still being shaped, but it would be more of a “here’s-how-you-can-do-it-differently-if-you-want-to event”.

“There will still be days when people need to drive their cars,” he said.

“But there are plenty of other days and plenty of other trips we do … when we don’t have to just fall into the habit of taking the car.”

In his comments to media, Mr Barr said the term ‘car-free day’ could be misconstrued and “an ‘active travel promotion day’ is a better description”.

Similarly, Minister for Transport Chris Steel said Mr Parton’s motion was “opposing the choice and opportunity for Canberrans to bring down transport costs, take up an electric vehicle or use public transport or an active travel option”.

However, Mr Steel didn’t comment on the condition of the ACT’s public transport system or plans to improve connections to the outer suburbs.

READ ALSO Ouch! ACT homeowners feel the stress of another rate rise

Mr Parton’s motion was defeated in the Assembly on Wednesday (7 June), but he remained unconvinced.

In a statement, he said the government has “once again” refused to rule out the establishment of a zero-emission zone in Canberra within the next decade.

“If they’re not going to establish large petrol-powered car-free zones in our city, why do they refuse to rule them out?”

Suzanne Orr has previously told Region any zero-emission zone would be designed “so no one is left behind”.

“I would point people to examples like Paris, where they did one around a school and really looked at how they could improve the streets so everyone attending the school has safer access,” she said.

“None of this is about rapid change. We’re not going to see any dramatic changes people aren’t ready for.”

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To Suzanne Orr, if you want to ensure safer access to schools then you need to put in overpasses or traffic lights and pedestrian crossings along Canberra Avenue as there are none between Fyshwick and Manuka, despite many students living in highly dense Kingston and attending St Clare’s or St Edmunds. Motherhood statements about improving safe access or active travel do not address the issues of no safe way to get across that road for schoolchildren.

Neither Labor nor the Greens are governing for all Canberrans, instead virtue signalling with silly stunts and pandering to their favourite special interest groups, all at a high cost to Canberra ratepayers, to poor and homeless people, elderly and disabled people and children.

If they want to reduce emissions in Canberra, they’d be more effective in doing so if they drastically improved all public transport throughout the city, rather than splurging on a single north south tram. Investing in bike infrastructure (often unused) without improving footpaths (used by bikes, scooters, prams, pets as well as pedestrians) has destroyed the walkability in this town to local shops, schools and cafes. Cutting bus services at night and on weekends increases drink and drug driving.

Better public transport and footpaths would also improve tourism, as people could easily travel to all places of interest with ease during the day as well as at night. This would save many from the frustration of not knowing how to get around this town. It would also help the many students here.

The emissions created making EV’s is almost as much as from a petrol car over a similar lifetime. When technology catches up and charging can be done in a similar time as filling up these days and you can get similar distances per charge then changing over will make sense. At the moment electricity prices are skyrocketing because we are switching off coal power stations before the slack has been taking up by renewables. When we all have EV’s imagine the extra draw on the electricity grid and how much renewables need to be created to do such a thing by 2035. Imagine the cost of electricity then! I think we’ll be seeing petrol vehicles registered well past that date out of necessity.

Turning Canberra into a place without cars is a terrible idea.
Canberra is not a small little city that can operate effectively or efficiently without cars.
It is a very widely spread out place and people require their cars for basic transportation. Particularly as Canberra has very cold winters and terrible public transport. It is disingenuous to expect people to walk long distances to the nearest tram/bus spot in the freezing cold and stand there waiting outside for ages hoping for a tram or bus to show up.
Clearly Barr is getting unrealistic ideas from his soviet communist friends, although I am sure he and his mates will still drive their cars, while all the proletariat common workers can walk miles in the cold. Bloody disgraceful.

If a car free day is encouraged, will politicians abide by it?

Actually, its spot on.

I think the green movement is anti-human, a trait shared with Satanism.

I wonder……

Queue the predictable hysterical cries from the joke opposition. Tale the most extreme possible example that no one mentioned ever, and run for weeks of outrage about nothing.

Taken straight from SkyNews “uni politics” playbook.


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