Short-changed on answers

08 October 2018

We have been short-changed. Andrew Constance MP answers to Cate Faehrmann MP’s questions put to him during budget estimates at the end of August are insufficient.

Last month, we shared the questions Greens MP Cate Faehrmann posed to Andrew Constance MP, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. Whilst taking a bit longer than the standard 21 days is understandable, the lack of adequate answers is not.

Minister Constance claimed the Government had “…invested close to a quarter of a billion dollars in active transport" and in response to Faehrmann’s question he undertook to provide specific figures on how much of this was for cycling infrastructure.

Faehrmann’s questions about falling rates of cycling in NSW saw Minister Constance dismissed the idea of active transport targets.  He also seemed unclear on the published data.

Minister Constance promised to share the plan that Margaret Prendergast, Coordinator General Transport for NSW, had alluded to but this wasn’t forthcoming.

In answer to both these questions the Minister said:

“The NSW Government has invested record amounts in walking and cycling infrastructure, delivering over $250 million worth of cycleways and walking upgrades over the six years from 2011 to 2018, through the walking and cycling programs.  The recently released draft City of Sydney’s Cycling Strategy and Action Plan 2018-2030 noted that cycling in the City of Sydney Local Government Area (LGA) had increased by one hundred percent (100%) over the last seven (7) years.”

Yet, this does not provide the specific detail asked for on cycling expenditure. Additionally, it ignores the fact that the stronger-than-average cycling rates in the City of Sydney are a testament to the hard work of the LGA to provide safe separated infrastructure. This minor area of increased participation is insufficient to reverse the state-wide downwards trend.

Under questioning about the Government’s refusal to fund the Moore Park Cycleway, Minister Constance had said the decision ‘would be reviewed’ yet no news of how or when was contained in the answers.

In response to questioning about the detail of project funding, project expenditure and delivery, and in spite of a promise to provide a breakdown on some of the ‘raft of projects’ and specifically mentioned ‘Sutherland to Cronulla’, the Minister’s response was that “This information is publicly available.” We feel the Minister may be incorrectly advised, as Council staff, advocates and community members across NSW cannot find it.

Minister Constance would not explain the reason for the delay of the Sydney Harbour Bridge Cycling Ramp and deferred questions about safety of vulnerable road users around Heavy Vehicles to Melinda Pavey MP, Minister for Roads and Freight, and the question of safe construction management for vulnerable road users to the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation.

In response to questions about positive provisioning for bikes in the light rail corridor, or speeding up the delivery of Future Transport 2056 plans for cycling, the Minister Constance claimed to have answered them in the hearing.  Unfortunately the hearing contained no clear answers, commitments or measurable targets for people riding bikes.

“The Minister for Transport and Infrastructure had an opportunity to share the details with us of all the good work that has or will be done for bikes, and to make a commitment to active transport in NSW.  We are disappointed that an opportunity has been missed for the Government to share its successes and commitments,” said Bicycle NSW Public Affairs Manager, Bastien Wallace.

Bicycle NSW looks forward to Melinda Pavey MP’s upcoming answers to direct questions in budget estimates and those deferred to her by the Minister for Transport.