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Media Release: Don’t leave us stranded in a car free Canberra 

Published on May 17, 2023

Advocacy for Inclusion (AFI) has expressed concerns about any moves to restrict older vehicles from parts of the city as the ACT signs up to the C40 cities agenda. This follows the defeat of a Canberra Liberals amendment, by Shadow Transport Minister Mark Parton MLA, calling on Government to rule out a ban of petrol powered cars in specific sectors of the city in the next decade.   

AFI A/g Chief Executive Officer Craig Wallace said moves to create clean sustainable cities with zero emissions had benefits for everyone, especially people with disability impacted by air pollution and impacted by climate change induced natural disasters, but legislators needed to be mindful of unintended and disproportionate impacts of climate adjustment measures. 

“As we talk about transport equity it is over-simplistic to assume that only high-income people have polluting vehicles and can therefore easily bear the costs of fines and fees.  Some people with disabilities drive older vehicles (and larger vehicles) due to poverty and practical issues in the design of new vehicles. Placing additional charges on low-income people who have no alternatives to older vehicles is not an equitable feature of a just transition”, Mr Wallace said. 

“The reality is that some people with disabilities and older people are totally reliant on cars for essential travel for work, education, services, family, recreation and medical appointments. Active travel remains a dream for Canberrans still unable to access older inaccessible diesel buses in the network and confront hurdles like inaccessible unbroken paths and streetscapes.  People with disability trying to navigate in the city also face emerging hazards from micro-mobility devices, difficulties in shared zones and barriers amidst rapid development and city disruption. 

“AFI have called for work to address transport barriers including accelerated rollouts of accessible Action buses, consistent and adequate funding for on demand transport, improvements to wheelchair cabs and the ACT Taxi Subsidy Scheme and trials of free buses. 

“Governments could also be doing more to support disabled drivers within the transition to new vehicles which include using leverage from fleet purchasing to pressure the industry to improve the design and accessibility of newer vehicles, addressing the lack of access to charging ports and attending to emerging gaps in the supply of disabled driver modifications in the ACT. 

“In our Budget submission, Advocacy for Inclusion has called on the ACT Government to support a program of work to develop a just transition approach to climate change, waste reduction and electrification which recognises both the additional vulnerability of people with disabilities to climate change events and also the need for responses which are just and proportionate. 

“People with disability are the first hit by climate change disasters, but also feel the impact of climate change and waste reduction measures so it’s important we get this right”, Mr Wallace concluded.   

Contacts: Craig Wallace, A/g Chief Executive Officer on 0477 200 755