Construction of the 4.7-kilometre Belconnen Bikeway is underway! I was pleased to join Ministers Chris Steel and Gordon Ramsay at an official sod turning on 2 October.
Tara with Minister Gordon Ramsay and Minister Chris Steel at the Belconnen Bikeway sod turning.
Making Belconnen more bicycle-friendly is key to an active, accessible and well-connected community. I hope that connecting the Belconnen Town Centre to educational institutions, such as the University of Canberra, and to Belconnen's eastern suburbs will inspire more people to commute by bike.
The Belco Bikeway was a key recommendation in the Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan and will include the planting of 200 trees and 4000 shrubs. Work should be completed within the next year.
Last month the Select Committee on Fuel Prices, which I chaired, handed down its final report. The following recommendations were unanimously agreed:
The way fuel prices are determined is largely outside the ACT Government's control. Greater competition and transparency are key themes throughout the report. The committee believes better choice and more information, combined with changes to consumer behaviour, will create the greatest chance of paying less at the pump. You can find the full report here.
- The creation of a fuel prices oversight body or position to continually monitor and report on the ACT market.
- That the Government proactively approach independent operators and consider offering them incentives to attract them to the ACT market, with the aim of enabling greater competition.
- Introduce a mandatory real-time price monitoring scheme, accessed through a website and apps. While private apps currently exist, we found that none provides a full picture of the ACT market, and they can be inaccurate. We have specifically recommended the Government seek to expand the NSW FuelCheck scheme into the ACT.
- Enhanced education. Myths, like the ACT having a price cycle, or the ACT Government imposing a fuel tax, continue to persist. The more educated consumers are, the greater agency they have in making informed decisions.
- A review of ACT service station taxes and charges, comparing like sites in other areas of the ACT as well as other regions, to determine whether changes need to be made.
Southern Cross Drive
Thank you to everyone who signed my petition calling for upgrades to intersections on Southern Cross Drive. Many of us know how challenging it can be getting in and out of Page, Scullin and Florey.
I'm pleased that the Federal Government has recently committed $1.8 million to install new traffic lights at two intersections: Ross Smith Crescent and Chewings Street. These upgrades will go a long way to improving safety in the area. I look forward to seeing more detail as it becomes available.
In July we celebrated the Belconnen Walk-In Centre's fifth birthday and one year since the University of Canberra Hospital opened. Free, accessible healthcare should always be a priority and it is fantastic to see walk-in centres being established in every town centre across Canberra. I have always received quick, professional and compassionate service at the Belconnen Walk-in Centre, as have many others in the community.
In other health news, the Calvary Public Hospital expansion is underway. The $6.7 million upgrade of the hospital's emergency department includes 22 additional treatment spaces, increasing the hospital's overall treatment spaces by more than 50 per cent. The recruitment of 40 new doctors, nurses, administration staff and other health professionals will ensure the hospital continues to keep up with population growth in Canberra's north. The project is set for completion in April.