Today in Question Time Mark asked the Treasurer, representing the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, about World Car Free Day.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Every year, on or around 22 September, cities across the globe celebrate World Car Free Day. This is a day where motorists are encouraged to give up their cars for a day, and the event highlights the numerous benefits of going car free to citizens, including reduced air pollution and the ability to enjoy streets that are otherwise congested and noisy in a way that is safer and more pleasant.
Around the world, a number of cities have taken action. In South Australia there appeared to be no acknowledgment or recognition from the State Government. In fact, the only group that appears to have stepped up was the Adelaide City Council, but in entirely the wrong direction by declaring a drivers' month, a move that was widely pilloried in the media as heading in entirely the wrong direction.
My question of the Minister is:
Having missed World Car Free Day this year, will the minister promote the day next year, which will be the 21st anniversary of World Car Free Day, and will he promote the day with appropriate events and announcements?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): I will be pleased to refer the question to my colleague. Sadly, I think we have seen the impact of World Car Free Day for many days over recent months because those of us who do use cars, as opposed to riding bikes—I am not sure the Hon. Mr Parnell is biking as often as he might have in the past—
The Hon. M.C. Parnell: More often.
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: More often; is that right? Okay. I will look out for him and see whether I can run him over at some stage.
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: We have seen the benefits in terms of pollution and the ease of transport—
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: —on our public roads—
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: —with the significantly reduced volumes of traffic during particularly the months of March, April and May in South Australia. Whilst I am not personally someone who is committed to tokenism and symbols, and certainly I won't be giving up my car on whatever the particular day is next year, nevertheless, I am very pleased to refer it to my ministerial colleague to see whether or not the department, in particular, will be looking to celebrate or highlight the significance, as they might see it, of that particular day, whenever it occurs sometime next year.
On 12 November 2020, the following reply was tabled -
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport has advised:
World Car Free Day is recognised on 22 September each year, intended to promote reduced dependency on car travel and climate sustainability by focusing on alternate travel options including active travel, cycling and walking, and public transport.
The state government takes a longer term strategic view to reducing car dependency by supporting continued improvements and investment in public transport, cycling and walking for its economic, environmental, health and social benefits.
Increasing public transport patronage is the cornerstone of significant investment in the state's public transport network in recent years. This investment has included projects to electrify and extend existing rail lines and reinvigorate the bus network.
Recent examples include:
- The $615 million investment to electrify the Gawler rail line;
- The $141 million Flinders Link Project extending the Tonsley rail line to the Flinders Medical Centre;
- Trials of on-demand bus services in the Barossa and Mt Barker; and
- Driverless vehicle trials conducted by the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) Future Mobility Lab.
A new government climate change strategy, due for completion in summer 2020-21, will set out further practical actions that will help build a strong, climate smart economy, further reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions, and support South Australia to adapt to a changing climate.
On 17 September 2020, the state government released the report 'South Australia's Climate Change Challenges and Opportunities' from Australia's most respected climate economist, Professor Ross Garnaut. Professor Garnaut identifies several opportunities for South Australia, including the electrification of transport. The electrification of the Gawler rail line will deliver an electrified network through Adelaide from Gawler to Seaford.
Major projects delivered by DIT have a heavy focus on active travel options with the inclusion of shared use paths and public realm multi-use spaces into planning, design and delivery whenever practicable.
In addition to infrastructure incorporated into major project capital spending the state government will have invested more than $30 million in the seven years to 30 June 2021 on standalone cycling and walking infrastructure.
Active travel and environmentally sustainable messaging, travel options, initiatives and programs are regularly promoted by the state government, its agencies and stakeholders.
Efforts detailed demonstrate the state government's commitment to the principles of World Car Free Day and come 22 September 2021 there may well be further announcements that can be made. Notwithstanding the state government encourage all agencies to promote their efforts and events at all times.