Canberra rally against freeway


Canberra rally against freeway

By Gina Rogers

CANBERRA — A crowd of about 200 people gathered outside Canberra's Botanic Gardens on May 18 to protest against the ACT government's drive to build a new freeway in the vicinity.

Five speakers representing the Australian Conservation Foundation, Conservation Council and local environment groups addressed the crowd. They outlined the social, economic and environmental implications of this freeway, designed to link Canberra with the new town of Gungahlin.

Environmental author Peter Newman indicated that the sprawling city is designed for cars, with hundreds of kilometres of roads and highways linking separate suburbs. Public transport is infrequent and relatively expensive, so for the growing population on the city's outskirts, freeways represent isolation not transportation.

As Mark Disendorf from the ACF illustrated, freeways are also very expensive and carve up bushland that is already disappearing at a rapid rate, while more cars will produce more greenhouse gases.

Several speakers advocated the construction of a light rail system in Canberra and a more astute attitude towards town planning, calling on governments and architects to consider more compact housing developments, not urban sprawl.