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Monday, 10 October 1994
Page: 1385

(Question No. 1688)

Senator Margetts asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 29 August 1994:

  With reference to the Framework Convention for Climate Change, the Greenhouse Roundtable of June 1994, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics' energy demand and supply projections, the ecologically sustainable development transport and energy use, and greenhouse issues reports, the National Greenhouse Response Strategy and the Minister for Foreign Affairs' recent affirmation that Australia would not refuse to take measures to reduce energy and greenhouse emissions:

  (1) What is the Government doing to reduce greenhouse emissions from transport.

  (2) What is the Government doing to assure that vehicles sold in Australia meet the same efficiency standards that are being imposed over the next 10 years in the USA, Europe and Japan.

  (3) What is the Government doing to reduce the long transport routes resulting from centralisation of production.

  (4) What is the Government doing to shift inefficient long-haul freight off roads to more efficient modes of transport such as rail and sea.

  (5) What is the Government doing to assure that urban planning takes account of the need to reduce roads and road use in favour of mass transport and non-mechanised transport, bicycles and walking.

Senator Collins —The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1), (3), (4) The Government is committed to a more efficient and ecologically sustainable transport sector. The efficient use of resources in transport is as critical to minimising environmental impacts as it is to promoting economic growth. A range of greenhouse gas reduction measures have been endorsed by the Commonwealth and the States at Ministerial level, including improved public awareness, enhanced investment in public transport such as CNG-powered buses and improved fuel efficiency standards. The most effective means of promoting ecological sustainability is through an integrated transport policy of which greenhouse emission reduction is an important part.

  The location of production facilities close to effective public transport links will improve the efficiency of businesses while also reducing greenhouse gas production. This is an issue of some significance to State and local planning authorities and the Commonwealth Government has attempted to play a constructive role through the substantial funding (in excess of $800 million) provided to the Building Better Cities (BBC) program.

  The Commonwealth has also contributed to the efficiency by which those goods which must move by road are transported. Time and energy savings have been generated through major commitments to improvements to the National Highways System. $820 million dollars is being spent this year on NHS projects, much of it directed towards ensuring that the transport task by road results in less fuel burnt per journey and thus less greenhouse gas production. At the same time, the Commonwealth strongly supports the efforts of the National Road Transport Commission (NRTC) to introduce more effective pricing of road transport through efficient vehicle registration pricing practices and standards—and is encouraging State jurisdictions to adopt the NRTC recommendations.

  In rail, the Commonwealth has made major efforts since 1990 to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of rail services. The Commonwealth has committed some $430 million under the One Nation program to upgrading and improving the capabilities of our national rail network. In addition, the National Rail Corporation has been created by the Commonwealth and some States to ensure that rail operates in a competitive manner with road, and is able to offer genuinely national services to freight customers. The Commonwealth has provided substantial funding to the NRC, in excess of $300 million in new equity.

  (2) Under the National Greenhouse Response Strategy (NGRS), the Government has developed, in consultation with industry, a fuel economy program for all new domestically sold passenger motor vehicles.

  Negotiations have been finalised, and it is expected that an announcement on the Government's position on fuel economy measures for new passenger cars to the year 2005 will be announced shortly.

  (5) As noted above, since July 1991 the Commonwealth Government has funded the `Building Better Cities' Program, the focus of which has been to better integrate urban land use planning. This program has a significant urban transport element. The Commonwealth has also established the Australian Urban and Regional Development Review, to develop options for building on the BBC initiative, including consideration of the role better urban planning plays in reducing greenhouse emissions.