You are here

Roads And Jetties Amendment (Management Of State Highways In Cities) Bill 2018

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Tags: Roads, Social and Affordable Housing

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, we will support the Roads and Jetties Amendment (Management of State Highways in Cities) Bill 2018 but we do so with a very profound sense of ho hum. 

We are not talking here about a profound change that will necessarily ease congestion and progress that transition of our beautiful capital city, but also Launceston to be a 21st century city.  We recognise that this bill would transfer to state government from local government the sections of Davey and Macquarie streets that link between the Tasman Highway and the Southern Outlet, and in Launceston the sections of Wellington and Bathurst streets that link between the Midland and East Tamar highways.

In listening to the second reading speech the minister gave earlier and rereading it again now, there is no answer as to why the state should have authority over those roads.  We agree with you that the state should have the capacity to make sure that our major feeder roads are not contributing unnecessarily to congestion, but there has been no explanation for why the state would wish to do that.  That goes to a depressing lack of vision in the area of transport, public transport, urban design, liveability, amenity and being a city of the future.

Many people in this place would have travelled at some point in their life.  I have had the great good luck to go Portland, Oregon, which is regarded as one of the world's most liveable cities.  It is nowhere near as beautiful as Hobart but it is a great city.  One of the reasons that Portland is so liveable is that it is a city that has been designed with people in mind.  One of the most important things that the local authority in Portland did about 25 years ago was instead of building a new bypass and highway extension, they decided to invest in a free tram in the city of Portland.  The tram is called the Max - Metropolitan Area Express.  You can hop on the Max in the greater city area of Portland all free and travel around any part of that excellent city.  The one thing you do not see in the heart of Portland city is cars.  They have gone from the heart of the city because people do not need to bring their cars into the city.  They can park outside of the city and hop on the Max.  They do not have to pay anything and they can get to wherever they need to be in that city.

We talked to the Mayor of Portland who explained that at the time the decision was made to invest in public transport all the doubters said - in a nation that passionately loves its cars - 'It will never work.  They will never use it.  It will be too expensive'.  The Max has paid for itself over and over and over again because the government has avoided having to spend money on more roads and maintenance.  The beautiful thing about the Max is that any time you hop on, there are a whole heap of people, whether they be locals or visitors, travelling around the city.  It is the same when you go to European cities.  The transport options in European cities point to older cities and you have had more time to move towards modernity than we have here.

One of my favourite cities in the whole world is Amsterdam.  In Amsterdam you can get on a tram, you can catch a bike, you can walk.  You see in Amsterdam the pathways where people are riding their bikes alongside trams, the pedestrians are weaving in and out, but it works.  There are buses as well, of course, and it works. 

There is a chaos in Amsterdam at first sight, but it is a highly coordinated, very Dutch way - Mr Hidding is not here to affirm this - of moving large numbers of people around that beautiful old city.  In some ways Amsterdam has attributes Hobart has in that the city of Amsterdam itself is quite confined.  There are not a lot of changes that you can make in the fabric of the city of Amsterdam, just as Hobart is hemmed on one side by the beautiful kunanyi and on the other side by the River Derwent, and that creates constraints to growth.  It requires of us different ways of thinking about our city as we move into the twenty-first century.  When you travel to other parts of the world you see one of the things, particularly in Europe, that people designers of cities did differently as they went for medium density, and this is a conversation that we are going to have to have for Hobart.  We cannot continue to grow ever outwards.  We cannot continue to go up Tolmans Hill, Mt Nelson, up over onto the eastern shore hills, up and up.

Mr Shelton - You could go higher.

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, that is what I am saying, Mr Shelton.  Rather than letting our city just continue to spread out, we need to embrace medium-density housing.  We are going to have to do it because there is no question that more and more people want to come and live in our city.

Mr Bacon - Along the railway.  Just help them.

Ms O'CONNOR - Sure.  Help them?

Mr Bacon - Yes, that is what I mean.

Ms O'CONNOR - I am trying to help them right now through my contribution, Mr Bacon.  I would like to think that as an intelligent and quite evolved minister in his own way, that Mr Jaensch understands the need for quality medium-density housing.  Not just any old housing slapped up, not the cheapest build, but something that actually does our city justice and makes people feel proud to live in as part of a community.

Mr Bacon - Hear, Hear.

Ms O'CONNOR - Are you actually agreeing with me?

Mr Bacon - Yes, I think this is right.  You have to build public housing that people should be proud to live in. 

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, that is right - designed.

Mr Bacon - Otherwise how do they feel valued?

Ms O'CONNOR - Exactly right, Mr Bacon.  The human eye goes towards balance and beauty.  We have an innate sense of aesthetic but our surroundings also influence our wellbeing, our mental health, our ability to go out into the world, learn and work, and we must be thinking about not just the number of houses but the quality of those homes.  You do not necessarily have to spend much more money to have a quality house that any person would be proud to walk into and leave in the morning to get a good social outcome. 

Mr Bacon - And you want it in a location that is central to services; you don't want everyone living on the outskirts.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you for your very helpful interjection there, Mr Bacon; that is true.  In the past urban planners put housing developments far away from city services.  There has been a move towards more integrated housing and creating mixed communities.  I was a bit disappointed yesterday to see housing supply orders only delivering land among some areas that are not close to the cities and as minister you need to be actively looking for infill opportunities closer to the city.  For example, imagine what you could do with all those carparks along Argyle Street. 

Mr Jaensch - There are a lot more orders coming.

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay.  First of all, Mr Jaensch, it needs to be sustainable.  There needs to be a set of liveability standards applied to new housing developments.  The ones that we developed under the State Architect back in 2010-11 when I was housing minister are still a template for making sure that we are creating communities that contribute to human safety and wellbeing.  You need to make sure we are not just slapping up houses, Mr Jaensch, because that is part of the problems of the past and it can entrench socioeconomic disadvantage, marginalisation and poor health and wellbeing outcomes. 

The question I would like to ask the minister is, when you say, 'The amendments in the bill before the House will facilitate these transfers and the effective management of the roads post transfer', what does that mean?  What will change on Macquarie and Davey streets and Wellington and Bathurst streets as the result of having a new owner of those roads?  What was that, Mr O'Byrne?

Mr O'Byrne - I was being light-hearted that the minister would be stop-go about it, making sure -'Hey, you, move along; you, stop it'.  I was being a bit facetious; I apologise.

Ms O'CONNOR - That is all right.  I thought I would let you lay that interjection on the record.  Let us not get personal.  We are trying to have a meaningful debate about the future of Tasmania.

In January and February 2016, the reality of the growth of our city and the underinvestment in public, passenger and pedestrian transport came home in the most confronting way to those of us who live in this great city of Hobart.  We experienced congestion the likes of which our capital has never seen and that was nearly three years ago, yet here we are and all we have from the Government so far is the acquisition of two of the feeder roads. 

Before I wind up, I acknowledge the initiative of the RACT in working across the community and across parties with all interested stakeholders on developing a Greater Hobart mobility vision.

Mr O'Byrne - It's almost like you're doing it because there's a vacuum of leadership from the state Government.

Ms O'CONNOR - You might say that, Mr O'Byrne, and I might say that too, and in a frank moment, maybe some of the people at the RACT who have initiated that might say that too.  If we can move past that and thank the RACT for helping us as a parliament to debate these issues, I believe the options put forward or the discussions points from the RACT are very worthy.  I attended the seminar at the university the other night and will very briefly run through the five scenarios that were put forward at that forum. 

Scenario 1 is predict and provide.  That is where we are now with this Government.  This is a business-as-usual scenario for Greater Hobart with a 'predict and provide' approach to roads and parking.  Point 1 is infrastructure projects focusing on pinch points as they arise, which is what this bill is dealing with.  Land use planning - continue to allow housing developments in outlying suburbs, such as Sorell, Brighton and Kingborough municipalities.  Public transport - some investment in public transport measures designed to make immediate impacts; for example, free fares before 7 a.m.  Active transport - some investment in active transport development including inner-city bicycle lanes and wider footpaths for pedestrians generally considered during new road projects.  That is the business-as-usual model which I believe we are largely in at the moment, regrettably, although I know there are some shifts within the departments.

Scenario 2 is build.  Scenario 2 supports large scale investment in road infrastructure to alleviate congestion.  That in part is where we are where the biggest infrastructure spend in the budget is road, road and more roads and there is very little allocated towards cycling, pedestrian and public transport. 

Scenario 3 is where we need to be now and in some ways we are getting there, and that is mode shift.  Scenario 3 encourages a mode shift to public and active transport.  Infrastructure is retrofitted to support a mode shift; for example, the conversion of road and parking space as prioritisation treatments.  Some car parks and parking stations could be moved to the fringe of the CBD.  This scenario makes a very important point about a critical missing link in planning for Tasmania's future and it was an issue raised at the forum the other night by Anna Lythe, a transport specialist and sustainable cities expert, from RED Sustainability Consultants in Hobart.  Anna Lythe was also a member of the Climate Action Council when I was the minister for climate change.  What we need is the development of a settlement strategy that focuses on more compact urban development, densification and infill that concentrates development in city areas and around public transport. 

Scenario four is the overhaul.  It is an overhaul of mobility in the Greater Hobart area to convert road infrastructure into shared spaces in strategic CBD and local locations.  Large sections of the CBD are converted to shared mixed use zones.  There are extensive rapid transit services focusing on key passenger routes, for example airport, hospitals and university.  A focus on first and last mile network to connect to transit utilising low zero emissions and autonomous vehicles.  That is a bit like Portland, Oregon.  High integration with active transport options, prioritisation of public transit and/or multiple occupancy vehicles throughout the network.

Urban planning:  development of a settlement strategy that requires high density infill housing within the inner city.  Tighter regulation of greenfield development, a programmed decentralisation of appropriate industry, services and attractions.  That is to create the hub and spokes model where -

Mr Rockliff - Get the bill through tomorrow, Cassy, and we will get straight onto it.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, minister.  And an incentivised redevelopment of detached housing, subdivisions and the CBD carparks to mixed use urban villages. 

Scenario five is a scenario that we are actually almost on the cusp of in part, I hope.  That is the river city.  It converts Hobart into a water-centred city with a heavy reliance on the River Derwent as the primary means of mobility.  Infrastructure investment around ferry terminals, access to and from these spaces is needed.  Development of a settlement strategy that promotes growth in areas serviced by the ferry network.  Establish an extensive ferry network servicing population centres throughout the greater Hobart area.

That would be a clean energy, carbon neutral over time vision for the city of Hobart.  I acknowledge the minister seems to be a passionate advocate for ferries on the River Derwent.  As I understand it, it is now Government policy to deliver ferries on the River Derwent and what a great day that would be when we can get to and from work, or to see friend, or to school or to TAFE on a ferry, then a bus, then walk on good pedestrian footpaths to where we need to be. 

I hope over time we can continue to have a meaningful conversation about the kind of city, both north and south - Hobart and Launceston - that we want to hand on to our children and our grandchildren and the many people who will come to live in Tasmania over coming decades.  We know that Tasmania is going to be a place that people want to live, from interstate and overseas.  Who can blame them.  It is the most beautiful, safe little place in the world.  It is a jewel and we need to plan for that growth.  We need to plan for it so we protect the things that we love about this place.