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Thursday, 25 August 1994
Page: 452

(Question No. 1424)


Senator Coulter asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing and Regional Development, upon notice, on 2 June 1994:

  (1) Is the planned growth of freeways in major Australian cities consistent with the Better Cities Program; if so, why; if not, what alternative urban transport options would be consistent with the Better Cities Program.

  (2) Is the NSW Government's plan to build the M2 motorway consistent with the Better Cities Program; if so, why; if not, what alternative transport options would be consistent with the Better Cities Program.

  (3) Is the Minister aware of the serious concerns about the NSW Government's environmental impact assessment of the planned M2 motorway raised in the September 1993 issue of "Urban Policy and Research": if so, what action will be taken on the matters revealed in that article.


Senator Bolkus —The Minister for Housing and Regional Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) The Better Cities Program is about demonstrating best practice in urban planning and development. It is showing that by changing existing urban management processes greater social, economic and environmental benefits are achievable.

  The planned growth of freeways in major Australian cities can be consistent with the Better Cities Program if freeways are planned in the context of balanced and integrated urban development.

  Under the Better Cities Program transport initiatives are planned in the overall context of housing, infrastructure and environmental needs, and the need for access to essential services such as employment, education and community services.

  A clear majority of major transport initiatives under the Better Cities Program are for improved public transport systems, with the emphasis on urban rail services.

  This approach does not however deny the role of the private motor vehicle.

  (2) The proposed M2 motorway is not a project funded under the Better Cities Program nor is it receiving any other Federal Government funding.

  The motorway passes to the north of the Better Cities Transit West Area Strategy and will service future residents of Parklea and other growth areas of the north-west sector by providing better access to jobs and facilities available in a wide area of northern Sydney. It is part of the Integrated Transport Strategy for the Sydney metropolitan area.

  The Transit West Area Strategy seeks to reinforce the roles of Blacktown and Parramatta as employment, recreation and service centres and involves the construction of a Merrylands-Harris Park rail link providing direct passenger transport between Campbelltown and Parramatta, upgrading of Parramatta Railway Station and of the Blacktown Bus/Rail Interchange and bus priority measures to Parramatta and Blacktown Railway Stations.

  (3) No Federal Government action can be taken on the M2 motorway as a result of concerns with it raised in environmental impact statements. Under the Intergovernment Agreement on the Environment and the National Agreement on Environmental Impact Assessment, in the absence of Federal Government involvement in a project, the responsibility for environmental impact assessment processes is entirely a matter for each State and Territory.