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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84 Responses to Liberals and Greens clash over Government’s ‘arrogant’ car-free day plan
Andrew Khin Maung Andrew Khin Maung 11:32 am 21 Sep 19

Erin Camporedondo well.there you go

Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 6:22 am 19 Sep 19

Even Production of Synthetic drugs use dangerous chemicals and the waste generated by the production process is often disposed of unsafely, causing environmental harm! The Government though encourage people to use it and spend money on pill testing!

Charlie Sgroi Charlie Sgroi 5:50 am 19 Sep 19

When are canberra people going to wake up...and change government....wake up...

    Robert McDonald Robert McDonald 5:45 pm 19 Sep 19

    I couldn't agree more. When are these clowns who want us to do away with gas and change to all electric heating as well as electric cars think the required electricity supply is going to come from without adequate base load generation which is in serious decline throughout Australia. Solar and windmills are fine when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. Battery storage for large scale enduring supply is not an option.

    Robert McDonald Robert McDonald 5:50 pm 19 Sep 19

    Sorry hit the enter button prematurely. Meant to say - I couldn't agree more. Where do these clowns who want us to do away with gas and change to all electric heating as well as electric cars think the required electricity supply is going to come from without adequate base load generation which is in serious decline throughout Australia. Solar and windmills are fine when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. Battery storage for large scale enduring supply is not an option.

Mal Sinfield Mal Sinfield 8:36 pm 18 Sep 19

We bought 2 units in Queanbeyan a few years ago great investment

Dallas Dogger Dallas Dogger 6:07 pm 18 Sep 19

No wonder Queanbeyan is growing.

Elizabeth Ann Thurbon Elizabeth Ann Thurbon 4:24 pm 18 Sep 19

And what is Alistair’s contribution to slowing climate change?

Bruce van den Dungen Bruce van den Dungen 10:20 am 18 Sep 19

It is for them and hreat pay as well

Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 10:08 am 18 Sep 19

Its a good idea provided that vehicle registration and CTP fees drop by 1/7th but they wont these fees will be hiked to pay for the administration of car free days.

Ben Garden Ben Garden 9:44 am 18 Sep 19

Im seeing plenty of comments below which pretty much echo the fear and hysteria that would have been seen as the motor car was being introduced for the first time in the early 1900s. People wondered how everyone would function without their horses and carriages and thought that motor cars were going to be the ruin of civilisation. Chill. If you haven't actually driven an electric car and experienced how superior they are in performance and efficiency than internal combustion you can't really understand it. Price parity is predicted around mid 2020s so plenty of time for people to buy new electric cars before 2045.....

Justin Watson Justin Watson 9:36 am 18 Sep 19

It is a long term plan. Seriously just because some people like the lack of planning by our Federal government, doesn't mean you can't plan. They are not going to force pensioners to walk on a car free day. They are not going to force these things, they most likely will occur naturally. Gas for a starter is already far more expensive than electricity and in 2045 i doubt anyone coule afford to pay for gas.

Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 9:11 am 18 Sep 19

Did they not foresee the white hot rage out here about the buses? Whether there is some fine point or not, they were foolish to raise any issue about transport right now.

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?

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