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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31762


Mr HUNT (11:03 AM) —I am delighted to rise to talk about two key initiatives in terms of bike paths and walking tracks on the Mornington Peninsula at Balnarring and Mount Martha within my electorate of Flinders. These are simple, basic things that are an important part of life in the electorate. They help people in the towns of Balnarring, Bittern and Mount Martha to go about their work and, above all else, they assist in providing safety for school students getting to and from school and for people recreating. There is a series of dangerous roads. They are important initiatives which need to be undertaken. I want to outline two initiatives, which are the Balnarring-Bittern bike path and the bike paths leading into and around Mount Martha Primary School.

As some members of the House may know, I was fortunate recently to have had the opportunity to walk for 500 kilometres around my electorate to assist in raising funds for juvenile diabetes. During that period I obviously saw the condition of the roads and of all the walkways. It is very clear, firstly, that in the Balnarring-Bittern region there is a desperate and pressing need for the bike track which the local residents have been pushing for, with over 2,000 signatures in support, and I welcome the fact that the council has allocated funds in this last week. In the past I made a promise to them that, if they made such an allocation, the Commonwealth would assist through a Work for the Dole or Green Corps project. Those projects are ready to roll—they are in place—and I urge the Mornington Peninsula Shire, which has done a great job on its bicycle and walking path strategy, to immediately take up this offer.

Existing local providers have done the preliminary work. They are ready to put into action work on the Balnarring-Bittern bike path. This is something for the residents of Balnarring and for the kids at the Balnarring Primary School, under Principal Rhonda Stephens, who intend to use these facilities. It is for the children at Bittern and Crib Point primary schools. For those three towns there will be a great benefit. I commend the work that the council has done in allocating funds and I renew the promise that I made to introduce them to local service providers—Green Corps and Work for the Dole—and say, please, take that opportunity now so we can begin building these bike paths. They will be a great addition to the community.

The second issue that I want to talk about is in relation to a letter I received just yesterday from Vicki Stephens, who is the president of the Mount Martha school council. Vicki Stephens points out in her letter that parents of children attending Mount Martha Primary School feel their children are in peril when arriving at and leaving their school due to the traffic congestion and lack of parking spaces close to the school. I know this myself because, during the course of my walk, I walked directly to Mount Martha Primary in the lead-up to school hours commencing and had the same challenges as the parents and children. There is a real need there, as part of the Mornington Peninsula Shire strategy, to have Mount Martha Primary School serviced by adequate bike paths and footpaths.

At present there are 672 children at the school and this number is expected to grow to 900, so the demand and pressure will only increase. We are about making sure that these things are dealt with before there is a tragedy rather than afterwards, because there is no joy in being wise after the fact. The only value is in solving something now, before it becomes an issue. Having received this letter from Vicki Stephens, I will, firstly, be immediately writing to the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, as I said I would. Secondly, I am raising it here in the House and, thirdly, I offer again the services of Green Corps and Work for the Dole. So, if there is an allocation from the council for a basic funding provision, we will immediately make these services available to them.

This is my town, so I speak not as a parent but as a local resident who lives within two kilometres of the school. There is a real need. I have walked those roads—I have walked them at the time of most danger—and I recognise that for the children and the parents in Mount Martha there is a need to update and upgrade the roads and walking facilities and to provide bicycle paths at Mount Martha Primary. I commend both the Balnarring-Bittern bike track and the upgrade at Mount Martha Primary School to the House. (Time expired)