Senate says NO to #HealthyStreets

The recent announcement by the UK Government of a £2 billion package to enable cycling and walking to help the nation recover from the COVID-19 pandemic may have left you wondering: what is the Australian Government doing?

JanetRiceOn Wednesday this week, Senator for Victoria, Janet Rice (who has long been a cycling champion, and is famous for cycling to work – including from Melbourne to Canberra when she first took up office), moved

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

   (i) that Australians have resumed or taken up bike riding in large numbers for exercise, leisure, and physically-distanced transport during the COVID-19 related restrictions on broader movement,

   (ii) the importance of well-designed and properly funded infrastructure to support walking and cycling as healthy, clean and efficient modes of active transport for Australians of all ages,

   (iii) that traffic congestion and pollution can be relieved by providing people with safe cycling routes, and

   (iv) that the Federal Government funds a range of transport modes and has historically funded infrastructure for cycling and walking, yet the current government provides very little funding to active transport; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to invest in infrastructure for active transport, both as a stimulus measure in response to the health and economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a measure to improve active transport infrastructure beyond the pandemic.

The response from Senator Anne Ruston (Minister for Families and Social Services and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) was disappointing:

The Australian government is currently investing record levels of funding in infrastructure across the country, partnering with states, territories and local governments. Our investments cover hundreds of major land transport projects which are developed and designed with consideration for active transport provisions as part of the scope of these projects. Projects such as the Gateway Motorway upgrade in Queensland and the Northern Connector project in Adelaide are examples of where the Australian government has provided funding for active transport initiatives. The Australian government also provides opportunity through a range of funding programs for organisations and local government bodies that can be used to fund specific active transport projects, with many funded over the past few years.

The motion was supported by The Greens, Labor, and Centre Alliance senators, but voted down 27 to 26 by the Liberal, Nationals, Jackie Lambie Network, and One Nation.

This is what that division looked like, highlighting how your Queensland senate representatives voted:




That picture says Queensland is letting down the rest of the country when it comes to support for active transport.

We thank Senator Janet Rice for the motion, and Queensland Senators Larissa Waters, Anthony Chisholm, and Murray Watt for supporting it. It’s great that at least a few of our representatives in Canberra understand the value of infrastructure which allows people of all ages and abilities to stay safe, active, and healthy.