Mar 13, 2013

Launch of Moving Australia 2030 – Speech to Bus Industry Confederation Dinner

One year ago, I stood here at this venue and announced the Moving Australia 2030 taskforce.

So it’s a real pleasure to be invited back tonight to launch the results of that taskforce.

Eight leading organisations put their collective brains to work.

Not just a triumph of effort.

But also a triumph of common sense.

All of your organisations seek the same thing –

  • The best possible transport system to carry us, and our freight, around this nation
  • And a transport system that supports and builds a more productive, sustainable, liveable and active Australia.

Last year I also spoke at BIC’s annual conference.

In between climbing in and out of a bus that actually drove around the stage, I also launched for national discussion the Government’s report – Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport.

Submissions to that report closed a few weeks ago and I’ll turn to it shortly.

But let’s begin tonight with the results of your hard work – Moving People 2030.

MOVING PEOPLE 2030 TASKFORCE REPORT

The Bus Industry Confederation has long been a consistent and unified voice for boosting the momentum of the Australian economy through an improved transport system.

I congratulate you on your leadership in forming and hosting the Moving Australia 2030 Taskforce.

I acknowledge the others that made up the group:

  • The Australian Local Government Association
  • The Australasian Railway Association
  • Cycling Promotion Fund
  • Heart Foundation
  • Planning Institute of Australia
  • The Tourism and Transport Forum, and the
  • International Association of Public Transport.

Many of the Taskforce members are here tonight and I thank all of you for your considered, valuable work in this critical area of national public policy.

Your work nicely complements the Government’s own National Urban Policy — Our Cities, Our Future— and our push to raise productivity, ease congestion, reduce carbon emissions and improve the health and well-being of every Australian.

Your report sets four tangible targets.

These are that by 2030 –

  1. public transport, walking and cycling will account for 30 per cent, or more, of all passenger trips in our capital cities;
  2. secondly, that carbon emissions from the passenger road transport sector be at least 50 per cent below 2000 levels;
  3. that fuel consumed by the road transport sector be 30 per cent less than currently forecasted; and finally,
  4. that there be a variety of transport modes convenient and accessible to all Australians.

You strongly argue the key to reducing congestion is better and more accessible public transport, and providing people with the opportunity to safely walk and cycle.

At present, Australia has one of the highest private car mode shares in the world, with almost 90 per cent of all trips undertaken by car.

With 99.9 per cent of our cars run on fossil fuels, it is clear that even a modest modal shift to public transport and bicycles will be one of the most influential determinants on how well we reduce our soaring greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

A full bus can take 40 cars off the road.

A full passenger train removes 500 cars.

Your report points out that even a ten per cent shift from cars to buses would reduce our yearly greenhouse gas emissions by 400,000 tonnes.

You also look at freight transport.

Freight coming and going from our ports, airports, and markets.

The big trucks and light commercial vehicles delivering goods around the urban area.

These are the lifeblood of our economy.

Put very simply — if the supply chain breaks the shelves are empty.

But for the most part, the community, while wanting those shelves well- stocked are not so happy to share the highways with prime-movers, or their local streets with lots of buses, heavy vehicles and delivery vans.

We can continue to move freight off the road and on to rail but changing community perceptions and protecting freight corridors and precincts are big challenges that must be met if we to achieve a seamless economy and address our flagging productivity. 

You recommend that on top of the Federal Government’s National Land Freight Strategy, the respective State and Territory Governments follow with their own complementary strategies.

I am aware that States such as NSW are already well down this path.

This certainly makes sense as we pursue a national seamless economy.

I am delighted that the Moving People team will be presenting to the National Transport and Planning CEOs at their meeting on Friday.

And I expect it will flow through to discussions when I sit down with my colleagues at the May meeting of the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure. 

Thank you once again for the work that has gone into this impressive document – Moving People 2030.

It is essential reading for all those who are committed to and responsible for providing sustainable transport solutions for this nation.

WALKING, RIDING AND ACCESS TO PUBLIC TRANSPORT 

Let me turn now to the key findings emerging from submissions to the Government’s report: Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport. 

It’s hardly surprising that many of the submissions closely echo the key challenges identified by the 2030 Taskforce.

Since launching the report at your October conference, some 185 submissions have flowed in from across the country.

From local councils, community groups, industry peak bodies including BIC — and State and Territory agencies.

Almost half the submissions have come from private individuals — including one petition with two thousand signatures!

As you’d expect with submissions from such a broad range of sources, we’ve received a diverse range of ideas. 

But some key themes have come up consistently. 

For example:

The word that recurs again and again is safety – the call for walking and cycle paths that are separated from traffic so that people of all ages and abilities can use them to get around their neighbourhood.

There is also a call for Governments to fill in the many missing links in our existing cycle networks, and to provide safer routes to schools, bus stops and rail stations.

But perhaps the strongest emerging theme is that transport leaders across all levels of government recognise that walking, cycling and public transport are mainstream forms of transport that should be provided for in the normal course of infrastructure programing.  

For example, when we build a bridge, we shouldn’t consider it only as a carriageway for car traffic.

We should also ensure that it caters for walkers and cyclists. 

When we help fund a commuter railway, we should be confident that stations are connected to a network of walking and cycling routes.

This idea – generally referred to as “positive provision” – is hardly new.

Our most famous piece of transport infrastructure, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, has catered for walkers, cyclists and public transport users for more than eight decades. 

It’s a policy that has been adopted by most States and Territories. 

And we have ensured that as we consider future infrastructure funding priorities under the next tranche of our Nation Building Program, the provision of safe, active travel options are built into the design.

This will mean that federally-funded urban transport infrastructure projects must consider whether provision has been made for appropriate cycling and walking paths.

This is so that they are available for all users, whether on foot, two wheels or four.

One of the many advantages of including these opportunities at the outset is avoiding the heavy cost of retro-fitting down the track.

The submissions are available on the departmental web-site so you can see for yourself the strength of support for the active travel and public transport agenda. 

The Department is now considering policy options and I expect initiatives will be announced over coming months.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT USE IN AUSTRALIA’S CAPITAL CITIES: MODELLING AND FORECASTING

As you know, I am pretty keen on delivering results backed by solid evidence.

Public transport is an area that up to now has been neglected in terms of good solid research into present and future usage, and its place within our transport systems. 

  Both your Moving Australia 2030 report and our own Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport report help fill the gaps.  

The jigsaw is a step closer to completion with the release tonight of modelling and long-term forecasting into public transport use in our capital cities by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport and Regional Economics.

Its report reveals a turnaround in public transport use, with public transport’s share of total passenger travel growing since 2005 for the first time in 30 years.

While the rapid growth experienced in the late 2000s is likely to slow, demand is forecast by BITRE to increase by about one-third between 2010 and 2030.

This has obvious implications for infrastructure provision and the public transport industry.

It is an interesting story and I encourage you to visit BITRE’s web site and download the report.

The results help provide an understanding of the forces shaping public transport demand in our cities.

This in turn will inform policy decisions around public transport infrastructure planning, urban transport reform, urban design, congestion and road safety.

CONCLUSION

In closing, there is one clear message that emerges from this good work.

While the car will continue to be the predominant form of urban transport for many years yet, it must be balanced by reliable, affordable public transport and safe pedestrian and cycling opportunities.

As New York and many other cities are finding, including in Australia, the alternatives to the car are popular.

Indeed, not only are they popular, they will be pivotal in solving the giant transport challenges before us.

Cleaner air, meeting our international carbon pollution obligations, curbing congestion, and producing friendlier, healthier neighbourhoods are just the beginning.

This Federal Government has committed more to urban public transport than all other Governments combined since Federation.

But there is still much more for all Governments to do.

And it requires a willingness by all governments and stakeholders to work together.

We must have a national perspective.

The challenges are simply too big for anything else.

Once again, I thank BIC for the invitation to speak here this evening and to launch Moving Australia 2030.

Ends…