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Infrastructure and Transport – Cycling Infrastructure

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Tags: Infrastructure, Transport

Ms O'CONNOR - During the 2018 election campaign, the Government promised to spend $6 million on cycling infrastructure on state roads. How much of the $6 million was not spent between 2018 2022? I highlight this in contrast to the $712 million allocated to roads and bridges just this year.

Mr FERGUSON - Are we in overview? We are not in outputs. I have people who can assist me with detail -

Ms O'CONNOR - It's your Budget.

Mr FERGUSON - at the correct outputs. You know how it works, Ms O'Connor.

Ms O'CONNOR - But it was an election promise.

Mr FERGUSON - You have been here longer than I have.

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, I have. Thank you for reminding me.

Mr FERGUSON - If there is detail requested that is beyond what I can provide an overview, I would suggest that we tackle it in the outputs.

Ms O'Connor, I welcome the question. I have been a big supporter of investing in cycling infrastructure to improve safety, to encourage active transport. My record is very clear, particularly around new projects, where we make provision for cycling infrastructure.

Think of the Bridgewater bridge, think of some of the new, even some of the main roads and highway upgrades that we have had. Even the Tasman Bridge, which is one that is particularly close to my, and your, heart, around making sure that we have safe pathways on each side of the Tasman Bridge that can accommodate pedestrians and cyclists, and scooter riders. In 2018, the Government committed $6 million to boost active transport options around Tasmania, linking cycling routes on local roads on a negotiated basis, many of which must be negotiated with councils. That policy has delivered safety upgrades -

Ms O'CONNOR - Cycling infrastructure?

Mr FERGUSON - Yes. I will provide you the detail that I can. I will go through and if there is further to add, I would like it brought to me.

This successful policy has delivered important safety upgrades such as the improvements at Bonnet Hill between Taroona and Kingston. The popular West Tamar cycling route was also improved with works undertaken between Riverside and Legana. I understand that was constructed in the 2020 21 construction season with funding of $1.5 million.

Further projects delivered during 2021 included Goodwood Main Rd, off road path between Howard Rd and the Bowen Bridge, improvements to the off road path along Stony Rise Main Rd at Stony Rise in Devonport, and improvements at Ranelagh secondary road to the off road path between Huonville and Ranelagh. All of that is out of the first commitment of $6 million.

You did ask me how much of it is unspent, so I am just seeking that advice.

There is a further $6 million which has been committed as a result of last year's election commitment. In progressing that, consultation and collaboration is occurring with key stakeholders, including local councils and bicycle advocacy groups, to assist the Government in identifying priorities for future projects over the course of the Cycling Safety Investment Program.

Ms O'CONNOR - Can I just ask you to address your mind to the question? That's all really interesting and positive.

Mr FERGUSON - It is.

Ms O'CONNOR - The question was, 'How much of the $6 million promised in 2018 was actually spent on cycling infrastructure?'.

Mr FERGUSON - My advice at the table, from the secretary, is that all of the funds from the first $6 million have been spent and the next set of priorities are being considered as we speak as to allocating the next $6 million.

Ms O'CONNOR - That's my next question. The 2023 budget papers show only a $3 million forecast spend on cycling infrastructure over the forward Estimates with a note that the total $6 million promised in 2021 will not be spent over this term of government. This is not the basis on which the promise was made. Isn't this a broken promise?

Mr FERGUSON - I wouldn't be ready to concede that at all.

Ms O'CONNOR - Of course, you wouldn't. I'm shocked but the fact is the $6 million that was promised is not being spent in this term.

Mr FERGUSON - I am not prepared to concede that.

Ms O'CONNOR - But that's what the budget papers say.

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, please don't talk over the minister.

Mr FERGUSON - I am happy to take all of your questions on the matter. We are delivering. The first set of projects out of the first $6 million have really meant a lot to stakeholders and the local community. As I say, there's a further $6 million that's been committed, with further projects being identified for delivery. I'd encourage you to allow the Government, through its department, to work with stakeholder groups, including the bicycle network. We have a very good relationship with them.

Ms O'CONNOR - Can I just say -

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, please let the minister finish.

Mr FERGUSON - I have finished.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, but are you actually trying to say that what's in the Budget is not true? In the Budget, it says that the entirety of the $6 million promised for cycling infrastructure in 2021 will not be spent over this term of government.

That's what the budget papers say. Admit it.

Mr FERGUSON - My advice is that we have a total of $5.07 million in the current forward Estimates and the remaining funding for the election commitment will be in the next financial year, in the next set of budget papers.

Ms O'CONNOR - Why wouldn't you include it in the forward Estimates and project it?

Mr FERGUSON - I'd be prepared to do that. I absolutely would be prepared to do that. But at this point in time, that's the way the funding is profiled. If the identification of priorities would allow us to do work more quickly, the Government would be prepared to consider bringing forward the remaining $0.93 million.

Ms O'CONNOR - I will just remind you that the budget papers say it won't all be spent in this term of government and you should you just be able to say that's true.

Mr FERGUSON - Let's see. I would be open to bringing forward funding if the selection of projects would support that.

Ms O'CONNOR - Of course it's needed.

Mr FERGUSON - When I have that conversation with the department, I will let you know that I have your complete support for that.

Ms O'CONNOR - Like they care.