During the 2010 Federal Election campaign the CBD BUG has adopted its usual approach of monitoring election announcements for new policies aimed at increasing cycling levels, as well as writing to the major parties seeking commitments to achieve this outcome.
Regrettably, the pressing need for the Federal Government to adopt a policy leadership role to encourage increased cycling across the nation – and thereby address a myriad of social, economic and health portfolio problems – has been ignored by both Labor and the Coalition during this election.
The Labor Party response to the CBD BUG’s letter highlighted as part of its record in office that it established the first ever National Bike Paths program, which is delivering $40 million worth of new and extended bike paths across the country through more than 170 bike path projects.
However, this funding pales beside Labor’s election commitment to spend $394 million via its $2,000 subsidy for owners of pre-1995 petrol and diesel passenger vehicles who “trade up” to a new vehicle. This scheme was announced under the guise of the “Cleaner Car Rebate”. But, it is little more than further financial support for the automobile industry and is more likely to deliver a damaging blow to both the environment and the economy via increasing car usage.
On a more positive note, Labor has made some commitments to sustainable transport projects such as the 12.6km Petrie to Kippa-Ring rail line ($742 million), which was subsequently matched by the Coalition. Both Labor and the Coalition have also promised to fund a feasibility study into a high speed rail network for Australia’s east coast.
The Coalition’s response to the CBD BUG’s letter provided no information on their preparedness to work towards increasing the number of people cycling.
But there is little to really differentiate the Coalition and Labor on sustainable transport policy at the Federal level, exemplified by their bickering over how to spend up to $300 million upgrading the Kessels Road and Mains Road intersection at Macgregor on Brisban’s south side. The Federal Labor Government has recently approved this upgrade, which will lead to Kessels Road running under Mains Road. The Coalition’s alternative was that Mains Road should go under Kessels Road. Sadly, neither party ever seemed to consider the sustainable approach to unclogging this intersection from the 73,000 cars and several thousand trucks that travel through it every day would be by funding improved public transport and rail freight services.
In contrast to the other major political parties, the Australian Greens’ response to the CBD BUG’s letter indicated their concerns about the imbalance in Federal Government transport infrastructure spending and pointed to the bill they have drafted which assigns Infrastructure Australia a new role to:
- develop and implement a national sustainable transport
- assess and prioritise proposals for sustainable transport
projects and infrastructure;
- provide advice on policies and laws relating to sustainable
transport projects and infrastructure; and
- to encourage investment in sustainable transport
In alignment with the CBD BUG’s understanding of events the
Greens also pointed out that it was they who successfully obtained
the commitment for the $40 million National Bike Paths Fund from the
Federal Government during negotiations on the federal stimulus