Date:9.16 PM TUESDAY, 10 June 1997
Member:Warnock, Ms Diana; Carpenter, Mr Alan
Page:3649 / 1

group of people are living in the inner city who must deal with levels of noise with which they simply did not have to deal when they lived in outer suburbs. On this occasion the noise that concerns me is from the freeway in the area of Mt Hawthorn. I refer particularly to the residents who live in close proximity to the Mitchell Freeway between Britannia and Scarborough Beach Roads. Those residents have been approaching my office for some time, and indeed the office of my predecessor, with their concerns about how the excessive noise from the freeway has a detrimental effect on their lives.

As a result of this I asked a series of questions of the Minister for Transport. Today I have received answers to those questions from the Minister about this matter. These answers are too complex to detail here; however, we were looking for a better measure for noise levels; a better way of going about measuring the stress levels that flow from excessive noise levels from the freeway; and a better means of preventing that. The Minister has detailed in these answers the fact that he believes traffic volumes along this section of the freeway will increase and, therefore, increased noise levels will be experienced by residents in this area.

In this series of questions and answers various ways of measuring noise are discussed, especially those that exist in other countries. Main Roads WA will consult the Department of Environmental Protection before establishing any new standards, as was done when the current standards for measuring noise were put in place. I am told that Main Roads currently is investigating worldwide standards for noise. The current standards were adequate when they were set, according to Main Roads, although my constituents have been complaining for some time about the noise from this freeway.

The purpose of the current investigation by Main Roads is to determine whether they are still adequate. I must say to the Minister that they certainly are not adequate, nor are the methods that are used for freeways to try to make the situation livable for those who reside nearby. Obviously there are expensive undertakings that people can do for themselves; for example, they can double glaze their houses, put up high walls around the house, or hope there is a large block of flats or an office building between them and the freeway. That would certainly make a difference. However, for this group of people in that part of Mt Hawthorn, the noise from the freeway is pretty unbearable and they are likely to approach my office again when I send them these questions. The give an interesting discussion on how to measure noise, but do not suggest any way in which Main Roads can counter the problems these residents experience with noise. I will certainly be taking this information back to those people shortly.

I asked another series of questions about one other matter of concern to me. I was a member of the Select Committee on Road Safety, as were you, Mr Acting Speaker (Mr Ainsworth). I continue to have a very strong interest in road safety and, in particular, in how on earth we can do something about the shocking levels of accidents on our roads. One concern relates to bicycle safety. To that end I asked a series of questions about dual use bike paths in the Perth metropolitan area. The Minister for Transport has told me that there is no accurate measure of the number and length of dual use paths in Perth at this stage. It is a question of shared responsibility between local government and Main Roads, for example. This lack of coordination between the various departments and agencies responsible for these things has been identified as a deficiency.

BikeWest, the agency of government that deals with bike riding, is working with relevant agencies to compile a picture of the total provision of dual use paths within the State. I hope that will be forthcoming very soon. Increasingly people are taking to riding bikes for environmental reasons and reasons of health, and I applaud that; however, we want to be sure that they can ride bikes safely within the metropolitan area and not become victims of a mishap on the freeways. I hope we will have an up-to-date map of dual use paths in the near future. I also hope every measure that is necessary will be taken to make those paths and the roads, safe for people who are increasingly taking to riding bikes.

Other people have had plenty to say about the lack of funding for bike paths. I am pleased to note that at the end of last year the Premier committed the Government to spending $25m to complete stage 1 of the Perth bicycle network. I hope that we will see this funding very soon and that the many people who are contacting my office about matters like bike ways will be satisfied to learn that not only will the number of bike ways in the metropolitan area be increased, but also improvements are being made in the area of safety.

MR CARPENTER (Willagee) [9.30 pm]: I will make a few comments on what was a miserable, mean spirited Budget, and particularly in relation to my shadow portfolio area of Disability Services.

I missed the opportunity, because of time constraints, to reflect upon the value of the Estimates Committee hearings. I enjoyed the Estimates Committees; they play a useful role. During the time that I covered politics as a journalist I never bothered to sit through the estimates hearings, and I do not know why. Now that I have sat through them I can understand their value and probably would encourage their development a bit further.