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Wednesday, 3 October 1984
Page: 1140

Senator REID —On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory I present the Seventy-eighth Series, third report, and Eighty-third Series, first report, on proposals for variations of the plan of layout of the City of Canberra and its environs. I also table extracts from the Committee's minutes of proceedings, and I seek leave to make a statement relating to the reports.

Leave granted.

Senator REID —The first report I have tabled on the Seventy-eighth Series of Variations reports on traffic problems in Deakin and Forrest, a matter that has been before the Committee for approximately two years awaiting a solution from the authorities involved. It was the previous Committee which first looked at these problems when making its first report on the Seventy-eighth Series in October 1982. That Committee approved an extension to Melbourne Avenue as part of the access road system to the new Parliament House. It is in relation to access to the new Parliament House that this report is significant. However, the Committee made it a condition of approval that a workable system be produced to deter through traffic from the north from using the parliamentary perimeter roads and Melbourne Avenue as an alternative route to the south, exacerbating long-standing traffic problems in Deakin and Forrest.

The traffic problems in Deakin and Forrest have been of tremendous concern to local residents. During its consideration of these problems the Committee has received many submissions from residents asking the Committee to ensure that a solution be found to the problems. In addition to the many individual submissions, two petitions were presented to the Chairman in July 1983 and February 1984, signed by 183 and 165 residents respectively, asking the Committee to ensure the reduction on traffic on this unintended alternative through route to the south. The Committee was aware that a solution acceptable in total to all residents could not be found, because of the conflict in views of residents. However, the Committee believed there was a commonly shared problem to which a solution acceptable to most residents could be found.

Joint Committee on the ACT

Joint Committee on the ACT

In October 1982 the National Capital Development Commission undertook to provide a workable solution to this problem by the next variation hearing. However, no proposed solution was presented to the Committee until October 1983, despite the establishment of a joint task force consisting of officers of the Commission, the Department of Territories and Local Government and the Australian Federal Police to find a solution, and despite the expressions of concern by the Committee that no solution had been put to it.

When the NCDC's proposal was considered by the Committee in December 1983 it was clear that it was not acceptable to both the NCDC and the Department, nor was it acceptable to most residents in the area. The NCDC asked the Department to accept responsibility for pursuing the necessary consultation and developing a workable solution to the problem. The Department, following further study, developed a proposal which it believed would assist in preventing the growth of through traffic in Deakin and Forrest, a brochure incorporating a questionnaire on the proposed solution was sent to householders in the area and the Department conducted a shopfront for a period of a week to explain its proposal and obtain public response. Some minor modifications were made to the proposal as a result, but the majority of respondents to the questionnaire and those who attended the shopfront supported the proposal.

The Department then put its proposals to the Committee. The proposals involved two elements. Firstly, traffic arrangements were proposed at the intersection of State Circle and Melbourne Avenue which would prevent cross-movement between the new Parliament House and Melbourne Avenue. This measure was designed to ensure that there was not a tremendous growth in Melbourne Avenue traffic as a result of traffic generated by the new Parliament House. Secondly, the Department proposed a series of roundabouts in Deakin, Forrest and Red Hill residential streets to reduce the overall speed of traffic to improve road safety and to deter through traffic from using these residential streets.

The Committee supports the Department's proposals as an acceptable solution to a difficult problem. The Department's proposal to prevent direct access from Melbourne Avenue to the new Parliament House is essential to minimise the through traffic using Melbourne Avenue and residential streets further south in Deakin and Forrest. The proposals for a series of roundabouts must be considered as working effectively to deter traffic and reduce speeds only if implemented as an integrated package of measures and the Committee supports them as such. While these proposals may not significantly reduce the existing traffic in Deakin and Forrest, they will assist in reducing the growth of traffic, reducing the speed of traffic and improving road safety. There is public support for, and expectation of, the implementation of the proposals in total.

Apart from the particular problems with the design of the Melbourne Avenue- State Circle intersection and the cost of the Kent Street-Carruthers Street roundabout which are discussed in detail in the report, the Committee recommends that the Department's proposals be implemented as an integrated package. While realistically the proposals can only be implemented progressively because of budgetary considerations, the Committee wishes to see the entire package implemented by the end of the 1985-86 financial year. The measures will only be fully effective once they have all been implemented. The Melbourne Avenue-State Circle intersection proposal, which will involve little cost, should be implemented as soon as the design problems can be overcome.

The second report I have tabled reports on eight items in the Eighty-third Series of Variations which the Minister for Territories and Local Government (Mr Uren) has indicated to the Committee have priority. There were no public objections to any of these proposals. A number of these items to which the Committee has given priority are part of the land development program which is attempting to overcome the problem of a shortage of land and housing in Canberra . Variation No. 1 in Florey is particularly important in this regard as part of the development of Florey will be undertaken by the Housing Industry Association with the aim of providing house and land packages for low and middle income earners. This involvement enables the acceleration of land servicing and the construction of housing.

The development in Florey will be subject to detailed guidelines which will ensure that standards of land development and housing construction which apply elsewhere in Canberra are met. The NCDC will make regular inspections to ensure that the standards as set out in the deed of land development are met. The Committee approves this variation and the other seven variations which are included in this report. The Committee hopes to consider the other variations in the Eighty-third Series, including those to which there were objections, as soon as possible.