19 May 2023

UPDATED: Labor MLA rejects claims petrol and diesel-free zone in Canberra is 'discriminatory'

| James Coleman
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ACT Labor MLA Suzanne Orr

ACT Labor MLA Suzanne Orr didn’t rule out a future zero-emission zone in Canberra. Photo: ACT Government.

3 PM UPDATE: ACT Labor MLA Suzanne Orr has rejected claims banning fossil-fuel-powered vehicles from an area of Canberra would discriminate against those who can’t afford to drive electric vehicles (EVs).

The Advocacy For Inclusion (AFI), a local disability services and support organisation, echoed concerns by others that some Canberrans – particularly those with a disability – are “totally reliant on cars” and lack the upfront funds to transition to an EV.

Ms Orr said she had spoken to AFI CEO Craig Wallace about making sure any “transition to a cleaner economy … is inclusive”.

She didn’t rule out a future zero-emission zone in Canberra, but said it would look different to the vast areas and entry fees in other cities.

“If you look at a lot of the cities that have signed up the [C40 Cities Green and Healthy Streets Accelerator], everyone has done [the zero-emission zone] very differently,” she told Region.

“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 also said the process would be designed so no one is left behind.

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

Northbourne Avenue

What would a ban on petrol and diesel-powered vehicles mean for people who can’t afford electric vehicles? Photos: James Coleman.

12:30 PM: The ACT Government says it will take feedback from the community on any ban on petrol and diesel-powered cars driving through a “significant area” of Canberra within the next six years.

The ACT Legislative Assembly passed a motion calling for the ACT Government to join cities around the world in signing up to the ‘C40 Cities Green and Healthy Streets Accelerator’ last week.

This is a commitment to “designate a significant area of the city as zero emission by 2030” and “procure only zero-emission buses from 2025”.

“When signing the pledge, you are committed to transforming your city into livelier, healthier and more prosperous places to live, with a focus on increasing the rates of walking and cycling and the use of public and shared transport that is accessible to all citizens,” ACT Labor MLA Suzanne Orr said.

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

Canberra Liberals member and Shadow Transport Minister Mark Parton called for the government to rule out a ban on fossil-fuel-powered cars in specific sectors of the city, but this amendment was defeated.

Members of the community have described the news as “discriminatory” and raised concerns over what it means for Canberrans who can’t afford the upfront cost of upgrading to an electric vehicle (EV).

“Easily the most discriminatory idea this government has ever come up with,” Rhiannon told Region.

“Apparently, the ACT Government hates poor people way more than I thought,” Sophie said.

“If the government does implement this, there certainly needs to be major improvements to the public transport system in order for people to get around without having to own a $50,000 electric car,” Emma said.

Braddon streetscape image

Could Braddon be a zero-emission zone in the future? The government will be asking. Photo: ACT Government.

Advocacy For Inclusion (AFI), a disability services and support organisation in Canberra, welcomed moves to “create clean, sustainable cities” but also warned of unintended consequences, particularly for people with disabilities.

“Some people with disabilities drive older vehicles due to poverty and practical issues in the design of new vehicles,” AFI CEO Craig Wallace said.

“The reality is that some people with disabilities and older people are totally reliant on cars for essential travel for work, education, services, family, recreation and medical appointments. Placing additional charges on low-income people who have no alternative to older vehicles is not an equitable feature of a just transition.”

READ ALSO Plans afoot to extend Lake Burley Griffin’s bridge-to-bridge walk into one of Australia’s greatest

The AFI has previously campaigned for the faster rollout of disability-friendly design across Canberra’s bus fleet, as well as improvements to wheelchair-accessible taxis under the ACT Taxi Subsidy Scheme.

The ACT Government has yet to reveal a timeframe on when it will sign the declaration or what form the zero-emission zone will take. It’s understood to be the subject of Cabinet meetings in the coming weeks.

Ms Orr has hosed down the criticism, telling ABC Radio the government will consider community feedback.

“The part that the minister is really keen on is to have this conversation with Canberrans about where [the zero-emission zone] would be best placed, and it might be that there’s a particular street people want to see enlightened further with more pedestrian access.”

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ChrisinTurner10:45 pm 24 May 23

Of course it is discriminatory – the same way that jails discriminate whom they lock up. Please start by getting rid of diesel fumes in areas with outdoor dining.

I’m an EV driver, and I have to agree with many here in saying that this proposal is premature. Canberra is not the size of London or Paris, and so air quality concerns are not on par. This indeed appears to be trying to get onto the “cool” bandwagon, as the proposal currently stands.

But to clarify (or correct) some of the comments made by the more extreme posts here:

The year proposed is 2030. That’s still 7 years away, but it nevertheless makes more sense to align it with 2035 (12 years away), which is when it’s proposed to start restricting NEW fossil fuel car registrations (note: not current vehicles). Most car manufacturers have signaled an intent to cease petrol car production around that point anyway, such as GMH.

People still driving petrol cars can park on the periphery or catch public transport into the city precinct.

EV vehicles will have reduced in cost by that point (new and second hand). The predominant cost of an EV is the battery pack, and cheaper battery chemistries are being developed as each year progresses. The original EV battery is predominantly NCA (lithium, nickel, cobalt, aluminium – with cobalt being the unethical element), but newer EVs are now typically based on LFP (lithium, iron, phosphate) with a more efficient M3P variant starting production, and there are even cheaper compostitions under investigation (such as using salt – one of the most common elements on this planet). Remember that EVs really only became a “thing” 4 or so years ago, so consider what could change in the same timeframe into the future.

Bob the impala4:16 pm 22 May 23

Oh No! Someone is being reasonable! Doesn’t StuartM realise that thinking beyond oneself or the present moment are both Quite Unauthorised?

Heads will explode.

Two things – GMH does not exist anymore. Secondly, there’s still the elephant in the room about not being able to drive and park a petrol powered vehicle close to any shops in the exclusion zone. What happens if I need to go to an exclusion zone to do grocery or appliance shopping? Neither will really be convenient if I have to park far away and then catch public transport.

Oh and while an area of Canberra is mentioned in the article as being part of the exclusion zone, how long before it extends to all town centres? Thin edge of the wedge.

The government is so worried about climate change that it approves massive concrete monstrosities, consisting of thousands of tons of concrete, glass and plumbing complete with thousands of apartments drawing on the grid. Did I mention the 100s of thousands of litres of diesel for construction. Yeah, that heat island effect is a thing

Tom McLuckie9:26 am 21 May 23

Is Ms Orr cognisant of the diesel consumed by the heavy goods vehicles and tonnes of CO2 emissions being generated for the land fill required for Stage 2a of the tram, and the CO2 that is generated in the millions of tonnes of concrete used for the track? Looking at alternatives to this 19th mass transport solution will reduce emissions more significantly than banning cars from certain zones.

So why does the act givt want to do this?
Because it’s hip and european cities are making these zones?
Or is it because of air quality issues? Which i can understand might be valid in densely built european cities, but i Canberra the air quality is more polutted with smoke from woodfire heaters than from cars.

Former. The Australian left slavishly copies the European one.

If what you mean is like the Australian conservatives that constantly imports US culture wars, then I agree.

The govt of our territory…….appear to be green lunatics. But we know its about power. Climate Change cant be proven scientifically, so this isnt about being green.

But it seems AI and robotics at behest of globalist lunatic groups is about replacing people, but are they expecting a 50% population reduction? Seems so. So i guess if you have 50% less people ( as per Deagel it seems ) maybe you could run houses on sunshine, wind and unicorn farts……

Banning normal cars is forcing people to avoid canberra. If you have an EV, chances are you’re not going to drive to canberra anyway, so the people who come will drove normal cars and wont come into the ” green DMZs”…i think ive just named these zones….

Lunacy. Pure and simple.

Own goal …..

“Climate Change cant be proven scientifically …”
Like a goat in the yard – you keep on bleating, but the only ones listening are your fellow goats.

brucewantstobecool9:31 am 21 May 23

Are people still denying the reality of climate change? Even if you did that, the benefit of a longer term shift to cleaner cars in terms of cleaner air cannot be denied.

“Climate Change cant be proven scientifically”

Stopped reading right here, good grief.

There are people that still believe vaccines put microchip in our blood to “control”. Same vein of people, ignore and move on.

brucewantstobecool “the benefit of a longer term shift to cleaner cars in terms of cleaner air cannot be denied”
If you ignore the enormous damage to the environment in digging up the rare earth metals, then I suppose yes

As brucewantstobecool said, FP … the benefits of a longer term shift are cleaner air. Currently because of the effort involved in producing an EV, it takes around 50k of driving before the EV overtakes a similar ICE in regard to carbon emissions. As others have commented, EV technology, particularly in the battery space is continually evolving … no major vehicle manufacturer is investing in R & D on ICE vehicles, the future for all of them is based around EVs.

JS, I get it, the end justifies the means. These are the orders, you must accept them

That logic works if you apply it across the board, Fp. However the better perspective is your bemoaning the environmental impact of mining of “rare earth metals” but you still support the even bigger environmental impact of mining of other ores and extraction of fossil fuels. I certainly agree that current EV technology is not perfect, but even so, it is delivering a better overall result for the environment and as previously mentioned the advances being made will only further improve that result. The same can’t be said for ICE technology.

JS, I think you have seen too many Greta videos. Because you can’t see the environmental damage, either through ignorance, or greenwashing ideology, and as long as the end result is a shiny new EV, then that is just fine and dandy to the Green crew. Yes, fossil fuels and associated products in manufacturing are contributors to pressures on the environment, but to adopt a “nothing to see here” approach to EVs not being worse in the manufacturing cycle is just hypocrisy. Forgot to mention that it takes a lot of hydrocarbons to build the roads for your precious, overweight EVs to drive on

Your faux-concern for the environment is the real hypocrisy – you don’t really care, it just suits your anti-EV stance.
I am not denying the environmental impact of EVs, but rather acknowledging the markedly lesser of two evils, for the time being. True to your nick, you can’t see beyond today, when the embryonic EV industry (which is still cleaner over all than ICE vehicle production) is not a perfect solution.
Nevertheless keep grasping – those straws are definitely within your reach for now.

We need people with common sense for this place. Don’t elect ideology-filled heads into government, people who can only talk, and can’t really do anything useful.

Civic … Have not been near the place for years !! Why would I want to go there … when we can drive our cars to Queanbeyan, Yass and or Goulburn and spend our money at those places… And get free parking as well !!

John Schwazer9:20 pm 19 May 23

Ban petrol cars. Make electric cars too expensive. Get people dependent on public transport. Set the conditions for using public transport, along with many other interrelated things. Lemmings

HiddenDragon7:30 pm 19 May 23

Might be time for another ratepayer funded trip to Melbourne to study the Andrews media machine – the ACT government has badly misjudged what should have been entirely predictable public reaction to this imported thought bubble and the attempts to re-spin their position over the last few days have been pathetic and unconvincing.

Beyond that, this episode is yet another example of politicians, and their retinue of staffers and attendant public servants, looking for something to do which does not need to be done – worth bearing in mind when the inevitable campaign starts for a further increase in the size of the ACT Legislative Assembly.

Surely going to Victoriastan is fraught with danger, I mean what if you get pulled over for doing 0.01 kph over the speed limit and told your papers are not in order

It’s ok their electric busses will get us where we need to go, even if they need to charge them up with diesel generators

TruthinMedia6:57 pm 19 May 23

Plenty of time to vote her out before EVs become mandatory, it’s the only power we have left. Labour used to be about protecting the poor, the disadvantaged and workers but now they consist of greenies who care not a jot about people. Maybe she should run on the Greens ticket next time.

There will just be another zealot-in-waiting to be voted in by apathetic voters

I’d suggest there needs to be at least another 10 years development in the market for EV’s and the uptake of them before this is even a thought bubble.

The catch phrase of many Canberrans used to be that the Libs are/were constantly making themselves unelectable and hence we’ve had Labor and Labor/Green governments by default.

With Labor MLAs like Ms Orr (I guess at least now I actually have heard of her and know she’s an MLA) carrying the re-election banner, the next ACT election could see the highest percentage of informal votes ever recorded.

I wonder what happens in the event of a nil-all draw?

I thought politicians were supposed to work for us, not the other way round

Margaret Freemantle3:24 pm 19 May 23

As a disabled person, I am at the end of my tether with the Greens in Canberra. Are they intending on handing me an EV? No, their attitude is ‘stay home and dont disturb our cyclists and certainly don’t drive an affordable car.’

What’s next, wear a helmet and backpack to capture your exhaled CO2?

Completely ludicrous! Definitely discriminatory. The ACT already provides positive encouragement and has spent vast amounts supporting people who wish to walk, cycle, scoot or take public transport. Making life impossibly difficult for the the poor, elderly and disabled is sheer madness. It is complete discrimination to block certain citizens from parts of the capital.
Perhaps it’s time to vote out a government that has been in power far too long and totally disregards what people want by pushing their own agenda based on pseudo consultation with very few. For example, the new planning laws, which has been opposed by community councils amongst a myriad of others.

Oh dear !!!! The last couple of months have really brought some stupidity to the headlines, are these people living in the real world?

When all you do is SFA, there is a tendency to come up with weird and weirder

Since owning an EV has become a basic human right, the ACT government should provide one to all residents free of charge. I’ll put it in the back of the garage for when I travel into Braddon otherwise will continue to drive my SUV for interstate trips.

I’ll just drive my diesel ute to Sydney and back on one tank

I don’t think right now is the time to go Internal Combustion free for certain streets in terms of becoming a zero-emission city. Either no regular traffic (excluding emergency services, deliveries, services [incl. tradie appointments] or those with disability permits) to promote active use of streets or just leave them as be.

Electric vehicles are still as dangerous as internal combustion cars, they weigh the same – usually more – and are perhaps even more dangerous given how many don’t emit a warning sound at low speeds where wind and tyre noise aren’t apparent. Let’s also add that walking, public transport and riding an scooter or bike bring true net benefits once you factor in the infrastructure and production cost (both monetary and Co2) of electric cars.

If you have a minor fender bender in an EV, chances are your insurance company will write it off. Just search for insurance and EVs

That will be the time to move out of Canberra

Margaret Freemantle3:27 pm 19 May 23

Or to change the government.

I’ll happily use Canberra services without paying any rates to cover them.

No, i think if enough people move out, govt revenue drops, that will put the kybosh on the eco lunacy…..

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