Liberals and Greens clash over Government’s ‘arrogant’ car-free day plan

Lachlan Roberts 17 September 2019 105
car-free days

The ACT Government is working toward holding car-free days at least once per year. Photo: File.

The ACT Greens allege the Canberra Liberals are “wilfully misrepresenting” the ACT Government’s climate change initiatives after Opposition Leader Alistair Coe labelled the government’s climate change strategy “arrogant” and “ideological”.

The ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025, which was released on Monday afternoon, recommended car-free days once a year, as well car-free areas, shared zones and traffic-calmed streets as soon as 2021 to help reach the ACT Government reach its zero net emissions target by 2045.

As part of the strategy, the government said it will provide “incentives” for Canberrans to consider active travel or public transport to move around our city, with transport currently accounting for more than 60 per cent of ACT emissions.

Canberra Liberals leader Alistair Coe said it is “arrogant” of the ACT Government to ask Canberrans to not use their cars.

“Once again, the ACT Government is demonstrating how out of touch they are by arrogantly telling Canberrans how they should be living their lives,” Mr Coe told Region Media.

“The Government switched off 750 bus stops, they slashed the number of services and then they have the hide to tell people that shouldn’t be in their cars and they should be riding in busses.

“If transportation is one of the target areas for emissions, surely the best way to tackle those emissions is by having a good quality bus service that delivers for all Canberrans. If we are serious about climate change and serious about emissions from transportation, we have to start with a viable transport system.”

Mr Coe argued that the vast majority of Canberrans want to play their part against climate change, so it is arrogant to impose the Government’s plan on them.

“Everybody is already conscious on how they use their car,” he said. “They are certainly conscious on how they use their car when they fill it up with petrol, when they pay $17.50 for parking, when they are caught in a traffic jam turning on to Northbourne Avenue or when they pay their rego.”

“The Greens are unapologetically ambitious when it comes to putting our climate first” – Shane Rattenbury. File Photo.

In response, Greens leader and Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury said the Liberals are “wilfully misrepresenting” the Government’s climate change initiatives.

“Car-free days are an opportunity for our community to experience a small-scale festival, without cars – akin to what happens during the Multicultural Festival or Enlighten – which both create car-free zones,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“At every turn – in every motion or debate on climate change – all we’ve heard from the Canberra Liberals is ridicule and scepticism rather than actual climate change policy.”

Mr Rattenbury said it is clear the Canberra Liberals have no plan to tackle climate change and would “rather sit back and watch the planet burn rather than show political leadership”.

“Asked more than once what the Canberra Liberals have in store for climate action in Canberra, Alistair Coe simply could not answer the question,” he said. “The Canberra Liberals can’t be trusted to deliver the climate action Canberra needs.

“They are really putting the ‘con’ in conservative.”


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105 Responses to Liberals and Greens clash over Government’s ‘arrogant’ car-free day plan
Toby Van Der Zwart Toby Van Der Zwart 8:31 am 18 Sep 19

I think it's great that we have a left wing government but I wish they actually acted left wing

Toby Van Der Zwart Toby Van Der Zwart 8:30 am 18 Sep 19

I hate to say it but I agree with the liberals statement about it being a pretty shitty move after cutting so many buses. I'm so angry at how many buses they have cut, it has made the city so much more inaccessible. If someone has mobility issues and their nearest bus stop is now a 20 minute walk, how are they gonna get around on a 'car free day'?

Domenic Fabbo Domenic Fabbo 8:25 am 18 Sep 19

Our governments are in power to govern, doing ‘nothing’ is not the answer

Carole Ford Carole Ford 8:02 am 18 Sep 19

Does seem a tad risky........

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 7:11 am 18 Sep 19

Storm in a tea cup from the Opposition taking something out of context. Must be getting close to an election.

Jill Lee Bee Jill Lee Bee 6:34 am 18 Sep 19

Completely agree, what nonsense. #fixthetimetable

Peter McDonald Peter McDonald 5:36 am 18 Sep 19

Great, I’ll just stay home.

Jorge Garcia Jorge Garcia 12:47 am 18 Sep 19

It's not the car free day that I am concerned about... Its the zero emissions announcement by 2045 and how they intend to achieve it. Less cars and all of them electric, swap gas for electrical heating. Get people onto public transport and bicycles. All great, until you start wondering what how the elderly, the very young, people with disabilities and people on low income are going to cope with the proposed measures.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 9:35 am 18 Sep 19

    Electric autonomous vehicles perhaps, they will give the elderly and disabled far greater freedom than they currently have. It is a plan. Would you rather our government just makes stuff up every 3-4 years to win an election and wing it?

    Jorge Garcia Jorge Garcia 2:33 pm 18 Sep 19

    Justin Watson You are right of course, but given recent experiences with this governments ability to "plan" development and public transportation on the south side... I am very skeptical about their abilty to deliver on this one without devastating effects on the most dissadvantaged folk in our community. I reckon they just put a great big tax on driving and using gas....

    Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 6:32 am 19 Sep 19

    Justin Watson this government has past its due date!!

Ray Polglaze Ray Polglaze 12:18 am 18 Sep 19

Even though I strongly support reducing CO2 emissions in the ACT, I can't help thinking that Rattenbury and Barr have walked into a hostile reaction to reducing car use in Canberra.

One approach would have been to build up the public transport system across Canberra so that a quick and convenient bus service throughout Canberra provided a positive incentive to take the bus.

Instead, prior to introducing their agenda of reducing car use, they have transformed the bus service so that for many users it is now a slower and less convenient service so that many are saying that they are now being forced to take their car.

It's also become apparent that the bus service is now unreliable, especially on weekends, so people have to take their cars if they want to reliably get somewhere and get back home.

This reflects a basic planning failure, scheduling more bus routes than they have drivers, which has left the public transport system in a mess and must have greatly damaged the bus service in the eyes of potential users.

There have been announced actions to address this mess by employing more drivers but it's early days and the mess is not yet fixed.

A thoughtful approach would have been to clean up the mess with the bus service before launching an agenda of getting people out of their cars and into buses.

That approach would have been more likely to achieve community acceptance and successful policy implementation. That seems very obvious if you think about it.

But it looks like the overriding agenda has been to get the climate change strategy announced before the student strike on Friday so that the Greens and Labor have a big positive message for students on Friday.

In that process, the prospects for community acceptance and therefore successful long term implementation of the climate change strategy have been sacrificed.

That doesn't seem very bright if your priority is addressing climate change with strategies that will have community acceptance.

Instead, it looks like community acceptance of the strategy has been sacrificed in the quest for short term political advantage.

As a consequence, the climate change strategy has been launched into predictable hostility and the Liberals have been given a big stick to bash Labor and the Greens.

That doesn't look like thoughtful politics.

Would it have been too much to ask that they clean up their mess before starting something new?

Roger Mungummary Roger Mungummary 11:25 pm 17 Sep 19

but its ok just think how pensioners will fare in Rottenberrys new utopia. They only have to zimmer frame half a kilometre to catch a bus if they are lucky. It will stop them staying at home freezing because they have no gas and cant afford electricity to heat their houses

phoon phoon 10:16 pm 17 Sep 19

So let’s charge people more rego for using their cars. Great idea Shane. Those of us that don’t have ratepayer funded cars though actually already pay the highest rego in the country and every km we drive already costs us a fortune in fuel tax and in parking fees. We use cars because we need to not because we want the world to burn. This isn’t Copenhagen, it’s an entirely different city. If you want to live in Copenhagen please feel free. But the rest of us actually have limited means and expect our government to provide what we need in an efficient and effective manner not rip every last cent out of us and curtail our ability to do things as simple as get to work or the shops or drop the kids off.

Neil Lade Neil Lade 10:15 pm 17 Sep 19

Coe-free days would be far better.

astro2 astro2 9:26 pm 17 Sep 19

Jorge Garcia, the sort of comments that come out of Fakebook really are silly. Where did you ever get the idea that there is no public transport to town centres? Town centres in Canberra are Gungahlin, (has light rail transport) Woden (has bus transport), Tuggeranong (ditto) and Belconnen (yep, guess what, it has public transport too) The problem with making such obviously fanciful claims is that no one believes anything else you say.

Tony Crome Tony Crome 9:22 pm 17 Sep 19

Canberra deserves it... Voted in Rattenbury and Barr, enough said.... Both Class A clowns...

Jorge Garcia Jorge Garcia 8:53 pm 17 Sep 19

They have lost the plot, haven't they? When they say more people should ride their bikes to work, do they realise that a significant number of people live more than 10 km away from their workplace and that the have to get from their home to work come rain or sunshine or freezing weather 5 days a week on 11 months of the year? Do they remember that they encouraged decentralisation of offices into the town centres where public transport does not go anymore? (I could keep going) What dream world are they living in? Who wants to make a bet with me that they will introduce punitive measures for driving without introducing viable alternatives for everyone? including the elderly, the very young, and those with a disability?

    Elizabeth Ruth Stein Elizabeth Ruth Stein 5:36 pm 18 Sep 19

    Jorge Garcia I was born and lived in Canberra - I rode my bike to school and back ( more than 10km away) throughout my high school years. Plenty of others did too. This is just for a couple of days a year surely not a problem...

    Jorge Garcia Jorge Garcia 7:08 am 19 Sep 19

    Elizabeth Ruth Stein This day was announced on the back of the ACT governments plan to reduce carbon emissions by discouraging the use of gas and private car ownership. Thats what I am talking about. Also a significant number of people would struggle riding 2 km let alone 10 km. And the bus network is in disarray... particularly on the southside of the lake. Provide viable alternative for everyone first then we can talk about achieving the dream.

Dale Harding Dale Harding 8:44 pm 17 Sep 19

Car free days and yet the Summernats still occur

Lyndon Zoukowski Lyndon Zoukowski 7:14 pm 17 Sep 19

Half baked Coe. Didn't even get his facts straight.

    Lyndon Zoukowski Lyndon Zoukowski 7:53 pm 17 Sep 19

    Daniel Evans no, he didn't check his facts before opening his gob. 🤭🤔🧐

Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 7:13 pm 17 Sep 19

I'm all for leaving a better world for our kids. Unless it hinders our freedoms in anyway.

And this doesn't.

But it could be presented in a way that hints it may. So I'm outraged at this.

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 7:14 pm 17 Sep 19

    Now if you excuse me I have to openly burn a pile of plastic. Because freedom.

noid noid 7:00 pm 17 Sep 19

Used to catch the bus to work all the time but now I have young kids its just not practical. Doing the drop offs, pick ups and if they get sick and I have to leave work early to pick them up the bus schedule does not work. Also lets keep it real, we are a town of 420000 people who are already making a minimal contribution to GH gases. Who’s ego is fueling these deadlines (one guess) and do we need to be the world leaders which comes at a greater expense due to the development cost etc. Just like the rate increase I doubt any impact studies have they done……….. Another out of touch proposal from an out of touch government who have no idea of the pressures of living on the average income supporting a family and paying a mortgage.

Sherbie Leo Sherbie Leo 6:59 pm 17 Sep 19

Omg there is an opposition leader. I should feel lucky 😖

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