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Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Page: 9058

Mr MARLES (4:27 PM) —Car pooling is not a new idea. The world over, it has assisted urbanised areas in reducing pollution through a lessening of cars on roads. For the individual, car pooling provides for decreased usage and maintenance costs with less fuel used, less parking required and less upkeep of vehicles. Current VicRoads figures estimate that over 45,000 vehicles per day travel between Geelong and Melbourne and it is estimated that 70 per cent of these vehicles are occupied by just one person. With the population of Greater Geelong and the Surf Coast region forecast to increase by around 18 per cent over the coming decade, these figures stand to rise, not only putting more cars on our roads but also putting more people on our trains and buses and, should we not change our transport habits, putting more pollution into our area and oceans.

Glenn Batson, founder of The Daily Commute, a car-pooling organisation that currently operates in Geelong, suggests that, if 5,000 people were to start car pooling on their daily journeys along the Princes Highway, over 30,000 tonnes of carbon would be saved from emission. Furthermore, it would alleviate some of the regional pressure on public transport and congestion on roads in both Melbourne and Geelong. In this regard Mr Batson’s sentiments are a reflection of my own. Three years ago I publicly called on the City of Greater Geelong Council to formulate a car-pooling database for Geelong residents. Such a database, it was envisaged, would allow residents to register their commute details in order to then be matched to similar travellers in their area. It was considered that, while this may involve some consumer costs and necessitate certain personal security checks and precautions, it would no doubt lead to decreased costs for the environment and the individual in the longer term. In its success may lie further benefits, such as the creation of car-pool lanes around Geelong and on sections of the Princes Highway.

There are simply too many positives to be drawn from a well-coordinated car-pooling scheme for it to be overlooked. This is why my office will seek to engage with the City of Greater Geelong, existing providers such as Mr Batson and other relevant stakeholders over the coming months to identify how we can best encourage the use of car-pooling schemes in Geelong to serve what is a clear public interest.

Let me be clear that I do not see car pooling as a mechanism by which governments of all levels can seek to diminish their contribution to public transport. There is now, and there will continue to be, a need to invest in public transport systems. But if car pooling can alleviate some of the pressure on these systems while reducing transport pollution and individual consumer costs, it would be foolhardy not to encourage its use. Car pooling will assist Geelong in managing its current and future transport needs, and this is why I support it and why I will be encouraging others to support it. With a coordinated approach, I know that it can be a beneficial tool in easing the daily commute between Geelong and Melbourne.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr AJ Schultz)—Order! In accordance with standing order 193, the time for constituency statements has concluded.