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Wednesday, 31 August 1994
Page: 737

(Question No. 1423)

Senator Coulter asked the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories, upon notice, on 6 June 1994:

  (1) Is the planned growth of freeways in major Australian Cities consistent with principles of ecologically sustainable development; if so, why; if not, what alternative transport options are more consistent with sustainability principles.

  (2) 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 Faulkner —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) The National Strategy for Ecological Sustainable Development includes a number of objectives relevant to transport and infrastructure development. These include `to improve the technical and economic efficiency of urban and non-urban transport; encourage switching to alternative transport technologies or modes where this reduces greenhouse gas emissions per passenger or unit of freight; and to optimise the modal mix of transport to achieve greater economic, environmental and social benefits.'

  Its guiding principles include; integration of environmental, social and equity considerations; a strong, cost effective and flexible policy instruments such as improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms; consideration of international issues and environmental impacts; and broad community involvement on issues which affect them.

  Increased freeway infrastructure can be consistent with ESD principles if the above are properly taken into account and freeway construction is undertaken as a complementary action amongst a package of transport reform measures.

  (2) I am aware of the article. No action will be taken by the Commonwealth as this matter is entirely within the State's jurisdiction.