19 May 2023

No-go zone for fossil-fuel-powered cars in the works for Canberra

| James Coleman
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ACT Labor backbencher Suzanne Orr moved a motion to sign up to the Green and Healthy Streets Accelerator. Photo: Daniel Morton.

Petrol and diesel-powered cars could be banned from driving through a “significant area” of Canberra within six years, in a new pledge supported by the ACT Government.

Signatories to the Green and Healthy Streets Accelerator agree to “designate a significant area of the city as zero emission by 2030” and “procure only zero-emission buses from 2025”.

It’s one of several ‘Accelerators’ launched over the years by climate-action group C40 Cities.

Chaired by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, C40 Cities describes itself as “a global network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities that are united in action to confront the climate crisis”.

“Mayors of C40 cities are committed to using an inclusive, science-based and collaborative approach to cut their fair share of emissions in half by 2030, help the world limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and build healthy, equitable and resilient communities,” the website reads.

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In Australia, Sydney and Melbourne have signed up for several of the group’s other efforts, including the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Accelerator, Towards Zero Waste Accelerator and Renewable Energy Accelerator.

But last week, ACT Labor backbencher Suzanne Orr moved a motion for Canberra to join more than 35 cities – including Auckland, London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Seattle, Seoul, Tokyo and Vancouver – in signing the Green and Healthy Streets Accelerator.

“Signatory cities are committed to transforming their cities into greener, healthier and more prosperous places to live, with a focus on increasing the rates of walking and cycling and ensuring the use of public and shared transport is accessible to all citizens,” she said.

“Signing the pledge makes complete sense and will encourage us to meet these goals as soon as possible.”

Suzanne Orr, MLA.

Suzanne Orr is seeking to make Canberra a greener, healthier place to live. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The motion passed with the support of the ACT Government, chiefly Minister for Transport Chris Steel and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury, who cited a new wave of electric buses and the record number of EV registrations as proof Canberra is already on the way.

“The ACT Government is already a world leader in transitioning to zero-emission vehicles and our commitment to building vibrant and sustainable streets, and it’s why we are proud to support Ms Orr’s motion,” Mr Steel said.

But Shadow Minister for Transport Mark Parton had his doubts.

“You’re asking us to sign a pledge that says we’re going to rope off a major area of our city and make it zero-emission in a little over six years?” he asked.

“How does that work?”

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Mr Parton gave the example of the Low-Emission Zone (LEZ) in Barcelona, Spain, which covers an area of 95 square kilometres and prevents vehicles without an “environmental badge” from entering.

“For argument’s sake, if we took that zone and laid it over Canberra, we’d be talking about a zone that would stretch from Woden to Mitchell,” he said.

While Canberra might have less than a third of the population of Barcelona, plenty of other cities have moved to establish no-go zones for petrol and diesel-powered vehicles.

The centre of London, for instance, is designated an ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’ (ULEZ), where drivers of vehicles not powered by either electricity or hydrogen have to pay a £12.50 congestion charge to enter. There are plans to expand this “across all London boroughs” from August.

Canberra intersection design

A sketch of a future Canberra intersection, as outlined in the new draft Design Guide. Photo: ACT Government.

Oslo, the capital of Norway, put in place a ‘toll-ring’ system which makes it more expensive for owners of diesel and petrol cars the closer they get to the centre, while EV owners enjoy heavy discounts. It’s also preparing to pilot a full-on zero-emission zone later this year.

The ACT Government has already outlined plans to follow these “best-practice” principles by not only banning the sale of new fossil-fuel cars from 2030, but also promising to prioritise ‘active travel’ in all new and upgraded streets.

The draft design guide, now open for public feedback on the YourSay Conversations website, includes designs that echo many European cities with narrower roads, more shared zones and intersections either shrunk or swapped out for more cycle lanes and walking paths.

While the ACT Government has yet to release a timeframe on when it will sign the Green and Healthy Streets Accelerator or reveal what it will mean for Canberra, it’s safe to say a ‘Zero Emission Area’ (ZEA) of some form isn’t far away.

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This is an outright case of discrimination. Canberra (ACT) probably has the newest car fleet in the country, certainly of a lower age than the average. Why is most of the population driving cars costing 25/50% of the cost of an EV ?….what do those people do when they want a trip to Canberra ?…..do any Govts. really think the whole country will be in EV’s at the ‘deadline’ ?…..if Canberra wants to continue living in a bubble, it’s going the right way about it.

TruthinMedia7:16 am 19 May 23

Somewhere along the line the good old political split of Libs for the tiffs, labour for the poor and greens for the environment has disappeared. They are all a melange of the same woke policies (except for very few hard right/left adherents). This means there is NO sane choice for the poor, disabled, elderly at elections. They are totally excluding from representation for their basic needs.

I’ll preface by stating that I do not, and will not for at least 15 years, own an EV. Their price-point alone pushes me out of the market, given how much per week rent costs (and no hope of buying in Canberra). That said, if the ACT and Federal governments are willing to work with those who are required to frequent the inner city for jobs etc, then I am all for a vehicle ban. Move all the public service jobs out of the city and into suburbs, or let us work from home every day. I already pay $40-50 in fuel and $70 a week in parking – I won’t be paying another $100 just to get to my job. Working from home I’d save $110 a week which I could put elsewhere to boost the economy, while also drastically reducing my carbon footprint.

Re no-go area for fossil fuelled vehicles – I’ve heard some say: “I’d love to buy an EV, but mortgages have skyrocketed!”

HiddenDragon6:24 pm 17 May 23

The massaging of the government’s position on this issue throughout today’s news cycle has been so entertaining – clearly one of the benefits of “calmed” streets with a growing proportion of ‘leccy vehicles on them is that the distant rattle of trumbrels is that much easier to discern.

Jenny Graves5:37 pm 17 May 23

It’s already too hard to park there, so we very rarely visit Civic any more. Like others, I feel sorry for the businesses who operate there. Presumably all of their workers will need to splash out on an EV car, as the public transport system is absolutely woeful.

ACT politicians either get driven to work or drive themselves. They get cushy parking and will be exempt from any proposed legislation. “All Animals Are Equal but Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others”

Am I the only one seeing the irony in the artist’s impression of a cul de sac lined with bus shelters?

Those must be resting shelters for shrink-wrapped cyclists who can’t make the distance to their next latte without stopping for a rest

Blatant revenue raising. Also is segregation of those who can and can’t afford EV’s. This is such a ridiculous idea – not founded in reality of results, but certainly about controlling our population’s access to services. I imagine this will be targeted at Civic. Good luck to all the business owners in the area. For those of you who have been voting Labor – this, along with so many problems in the ACT is a direct result of that decision.

A Tesla car is a basic human right. Should be provided to Canberrans for free.

If it was only about revenue I wouldn’t be half as worried

I am once again begging the Barr/Rat-tenbury government to service it’s population and aside from that to LEAVE US ALONE.

The arrogance and complacency of extended incumbency is rearing it’s head!

Capital Retro8:24 am 17 May 23

I was listening to ABC 666 this morning and unless I was half asleep, their interpretation of what is planned is a total car-fee zone. There was no mention of EVs being exempted.

This being the case maybe the MLAs’ no longer to be used car park could be turned into a place for the homeless to live?

Personally, I haven’t been to do or see anything in La Zona for a while. They can do what they like to the place.

Kicking this Labor/Greens sh*tshow out next election is necessary for the survival of this place

Rodney van Lieshout6:56 am 17 May 23

I think technology is a wonderful thing when arguably it improves quality of life for all. But in the ACT this will come with a price. The ACT government is broke to tune of 8 billion and this will only get worse. It spends more money than it can make and the Keynes economic philosophy will only go so far. So how does the ACT government fix this? By increasing rates and forcing people to use services like light rail to get into the city, because it is government owned and will over time (not sure how long this will take) pay down the debt. The Green and Healthy Streets accelerator is just a smokescreen.

Brett Foster11:08 am 17 May 23

Technology improves our lives while at the bottom of the supply chain of said technology involves child slavery we need to question our decisions when using said technology.

Maybe ACT residents need a break from the Govt implementing these environmental policies which don’t seem to be balanced.

After all, as some of the policies haven’t been implemented yet, there isn’t a shred of evidence to suggest they will work or not in the Australian and Canberran context.

I don’t appreciate being made to be a guinea pig. I’d rather have a choice thanks.

Please just stop with all these brain dead visions, go out in the real world and talk with real people, just go away

EXACTLY. This sums up my frustration with this local government so well. Do your job, service the population and aside from that – LEAVE. US. ALONE.

The cashed up, EV-owning burghers of Forrest, Yarralumla, Red Hill, Deakin etc will be able to come and go as they please. Meanwhile, we who live in the nether regions of King Andrew’s empire will only be able to look wistfully across the line in the sand and the sign that says ICE Vehicles Verboten. I wonder if the sign will have a ☠️ on it ! 😩

GrumpyGrandpa9:47 pm 16 May 23

I expect a Zero free emissions zone wouldn’t just happen, but be “encouraged”, via the introduction of a congestion tax. Logically, if that were to be model adopted, it would apply to high traffic / congestion areas, say like Civic.

Just imagine all of the City based non-EV owning apartment dwellers, having to pay a congestion tax, just to leave their apartments!

The Government wants to take LR south of the City, regardless of cost and its slower commute times, (in comparison to the current bus service), now we are seeing plans for roundabouts, that prioritise pedestrians and cyclists within the roundabout, the unilateral takeover of Calvary Public Hospital and their proposal to segregate sections of Canberra.

One of the failures of our political system is that we are pretty much guaranteed to return the same Government, election after election. Any brainwave idea the ruling party comes up with, gets introduced, because the Government knows the Opposition can’t win power.

“Any brainwave idea the ruling party comes up with, gets introduced, because the Government knows the Opposition can’t win power.”

Isn’t that an indictment of the Opposition, GG?

I know a lot of Canberrans, including Labor voters, who would happily give Barr/Rattenbury the flick IF the Libs could put forward an acceptable alternative government.

Unfortunately the “back to the future” approach (led by Sesleja accolytes) is only going to see the default electoral result continue. The only way to defeat Labor/Greens is to offer a moderate cohort of Liberal candidates.

Caitlin Ross9:08 pm 16 May 23

I live in Banks. The public transport anywhere from here sucks. I have a disability parking permit because I can’t walk long distances due to health reasons. I can’t afford an EV. So basically you’re banning me from the city. Because I can’t walk around easily, can’t bus there in less than 2hrs. This actually feels like disability discrimination.

Only the people who fit their mould will be allowed into the city.

Art-is -lazy8:27 pm 16 May 23

So, the ACT Government is going to ban drivers with a disability from areas in the CBDs because they can’t afford to buy EVs, the lawyers are going to make a killing on that?

Capital Retro10:35 am 17 May 23

No capable lawyer in the ACT will take on the ACT Labor/Green government because some are already appointed to the board of an government agency which creates a convenient “conflict of interest”.

And the three major national legal firms who handle class actions are large electoral donors to the ALP.

@Capital Retro
“… capable lawyer in the ACT … already appointed to the board of an (sic) government agency”
Which capable lawyers would they be – and to whichgovernment agencies are they appointed, CR?

And csn you name the “three major national legal firms” who are “… large electoral donors to the ALP”?

Capital Retro4:09 pm 17 May 23

When you went to university, didn’t they teach you how to research?

Why don’t you phone a couple of lawyers yourself? I can’t name them because RiotACT can’t publish their names. Details of how the system works are here:


Re law firms who donate big time to the ALP, here’s a start for you:


@Capital Retro
Actually, CR, they taught me to cite my references to provide support for facts. However, given you generally have a loose to non-existent association with facts I just wanted to check your assertions.

So your first justification is a link to the ACT Government Solicitor (ACTGS) website page, which essentially tells me that the ACTGS may engage Counsel to assist in providing effective legal advice and representation and the process by which this occurs.

Big difference in being engaged to provide legal advice and representation (which surprisingly is what lawyers do), to sitting on the board of an agency, CR!

Capital Retro6:52 pm 17 May 23

Dig a bit deeper. Have you phoned some solicitors to see if they will represent you in a claim against the government?

@Capital Retro
Thank you for the link, CR. You’ve just demonstrated that there is governance around the appointment of Boards, etc. It even covers ‘conflict of interest’.
So, thanks for shooting yourself in the foot, CR – saves me the trouble.

@Capital Retro
“Dig a bit deeper.”
Why would I bother? You regularly dig a big enough hole to bury any semblance of reality.

This is dividing the rich form the poor. Barr has lost touch with the lower and middle class.

HiddenDragon6:52 pm 16 May 23

The ACT government’s relentless search for the last straw continues apace – dripping, as is so often the case, in do as I say, not as I do, hypocrisy and class traitorism.

Thus government is becomingly increasingly insane with its tax the poor attitude and its dictatorial edicts.

Wanna go halves in buying an EV Mr Barr because I can’t afford one.

TruthinMedia6:11 pm 16 May 23

I’ll be sitting on my push powered walking frame in the middle of the EV only roads every chance I get which will be whenever I have to visit my GP, cardiologist, pharmacy and dentist who are all in the city and I can’t afford an EV!

PC__LoadLetter5:25 pm 16 May 23

If this meant reopening City Walk, surrounding streets, and East Row – but only to EVs – umm.. Yeah, I could live with that.

But as for streets currently open to general traffic? Forget it.

Tony Kosaris5:11 pm 16 May 23

So will this also include emergency services vehicles because that’s a big ask for them to be EV’s and what about the people who can’t afford to buy EV is the government gonna make some kind of a scheme to help with this? That’s a lot of money but hey a good way to force people into using the tram network which in 6 yrs will be complete from say woden to gungahlin!!!

@Tony Kosaris
A number of overseas cities which have already deployed EV ambulances.
Here’s an indepedent youtube review of one in California by Out of Spec Studios

No, they’ll just tax you more and more on your petrol car to make sure you can never afford an electric one.

Believe this is not bad policy, but it is bad policy this early – just seems to me it will provoke anti EV feelings on steroids. We need to embrace the tech not make it a culture war item.

Wonderful, let’s drive the price of power even HIGHER! Can’t wait until it comes time for us to install a wood fire heater again because this Government’s common sense is non-existent.

Can not see how EV’s will drive up the price of power. They can be charged using roof top solar, or cheaper solar during the day – there is a glut of power between 11.30am and 3.00pm.

Capital Retro8:59 am 17 May 23

@proth57……and while this is happening you can’t use the EV. I think your logic board has short circuited.

proth57 – you may be able to afford Solar PV, but many can’t, and those that can’t won’t be purchasing overpriced EVs

This is just a really dumb and unachievable idea, once again highlighting the government’s inability to focus on their core areas of service delivery and things that will benefit ACT residents.

We don’t and won’t have the supporting public transport infrastructure to support such a ban for decades and fossil fuel powered vehicles will be naturally phased out as EVs increasingly become more prominent.

So what’s the point of this meaningless virtue signalling?

I’m glad that you accept the Liberals would aim a lot higher re policy developers rather than the Kindy kids Labor and the Greens rely on.

Ohh boy this well get the reve heads going.

Did you actually read the article? Let me help you:

‘Chaired by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, C40 Cities describes itself as “a global network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities that are united in action to confront the climate crisis”’

Capital Retro5:05 pm 16 May 23

What “climate crisis” are you talking about?

@Capital Retro
That’ll be the “climate crisis” that a majority of Australians accept as a reality, CR

Capital Retro5:28 pm 17 May 23

Thanks, trudi.

A majority can be anywhere between 51% – 99%. If the “climate crisis” is something invented by the left the support for it will be commensurate with the number that vote for the left and that is actually less than the vote for the conservatives so I think you are spinning in the wrong direction, again, JS.

@Capital Retro
So, CR, I’m spinning in the wrong direction?

Did you think you would get away with squawking yet another of your denialist falsehoods? You should know by now I will always call you on it.

According to an IPSOS poll in April 2022:
https://www.ipsos.com/en-au/8-10-australians-are-concerned-about-climate-change – “8 in 10 Australians are concerned about climate change with a clear public expectation of Government action”
… Let me help you with the math, CR – that’s 80%, which, at that level of concern, despite what you think, justifies the term “crisis”

Bob the impala7:20 pm 17 May 23

Capital Retro, are you suffering short term memory loss? I have previously advised that over 80% of the population agree with the scientific conclusion of over 99% (effectively 100%) of climate scientists.

Is 80% of the country voting left, or is it only from your point of view?

You can look climate scientists up in the phone book along with “nuclear physicists”, “cosmologists” and “T-cell researchers”. Oh. Not there? You have no point again.

Another lunatic idea by the moronic, tree hugging ACT Government.

Great! ANOTHER reason to stay out of Civic!

David Wynack1:37 pm 16 May 23

I’m a cleaner that cleans government buildings and I cant afford an $80000 electric car. Perhaps these intelligent people would like to start cleaning their own dunnys as I’m getting priced out of everything including, now it seems, my job.

Robert Woodrow3:38 pm 16 May 23

Precisely correct David
I also work in the Civic area as a contractor and there is no way l can justify spending 80,000 on an Electric Van to service clients in Civic.
Having previously worked in the food wholesale industry l cannot imagine food suppliers could afford to buy electric vehicles to supply restaurants and retail outlets
Just not economically viable

You do not have to pay $80k – they are not cheap but can get a BYD for around $51k.

Ev are expensive how are family going to afford this ? The canberra power grid couldn’t handle charging that many cars this is nonsense . All the apartments don’t have charging station because it’s to costly and will massively add to the premium if insurance. This government is just needs to go they be around way to long

Not to mention the weight limits possible being exceeded for multi-story carparks:

james graham11:00 am 16 May 23

Considering Canberra’s car fleet gets green every year anyway, this is just unnecessary pain to fringe dwellers and lower income earners. This is one step too far. Vote Liberals 2024!

another reason to give the Liberals a go at the next election!!

As soon as they can fix the revolving door of leadership and hire a Year 10 student to develop their policies

I’m glad that you accept the Liberals would aim a lot higher re policy developers rather than the Kindy kids Labor and the Greens rely on.

Capital Retro9:48 am 16 May 23

So, no garbage trucks, no ambulances, and no fire engines except the Claytons EV fire engine which will probably have a flat battery.

They are overdosing on the Kool-Aid again.

Kool-Aid is delivered by trucks

Haha good point. People’s relatives will start to die due to ambulances and fire trucks running out of battery on the way to the scenes.

Alright for Greens senators to be driven around, fly regularly on gas belching jets, then return to lecture us serfs

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