Stephen Winthrop of Canberra Lake Cruises happy to see paid parking being introduced into the Parliamentary Triangle. Photo: Jay Cronan
At least one tourism operator has high hopes that paid parking in the Parliamentary Triangle could free up space for leisure-makers, but some public servants believe new fees won’t be enough to deter car commuters.
A plan to introduce parking fees beginning at $2 an hour and ranging up to $11 a day within the precinct was revealed in Tuesday’s federal budget.
Canberra Lake Cruises owner Stephen Winthrop welcomed the proposal, and said it would help alleviate one of the pressures on tourism operators in the area.
Public servant Stacey Herder unhappy about paid parking within the Parliamentary Triangle. Photo: Jay Cronan
“The NCA had to do something about the parking station, it is absolutely atrocious down here,” he said.
“I’ve got people ringing me up saying they can’t find a car park, so they can’t come for a ride. So I’m losing revenue from that.
“Hopefully the paying car park will free it up for the tourists.”
Mr Winthrop said tourists regularly complained about the lack of parking, and some had expressed surprise that it wasn’t paid parking already.
He didn’t believe the extra cost would deter tourists, so long as it was reasonable.
Federal Labor MP Gai Brodtmann acknowledged that parking was a problem for tourists in the area, but said paid parking didn’t make sense as there wasn’t a shopping or business district in the triangle.
“I am not happy about the announcement. I do understand the pressures that national institutions are facing in terms of tourists driving around and around the Parliamentary Triangle trying to find a park,” she told ABC radio.
“[But] I have always been clear that I only support paid parking if there is amenity in the triangle … So what I will be doing today is recommending to the national capital and external territories committee that we conduct an inquiry into the amenity around the parliamentary triangle.”
National Library employee Stacey Herder parks daily in the free lot outside Questacon, and said that while she wasn’t surprised by the announcement, she wasn’t happy about it either.
“Things are hard enough at the moment, without having to worry about one more thing to pay for,” Ms Herder said.
She said the scheme could prevent some commuters who park in the area for free then head across to Civic for work, but predicted most people who worked in the triangle would continue to drive.
"I don’t know that it’s really going to help as much as might be suggested with the difficulties in finding parking either. You still have the same number of people who are going to need to park," she said.
She said she had used public transport options in the past, but her commute from Chisholm wasn’t easy by bus and wasn’t pleasant in winter, particularly when overcrowded buses couldn’t take on additional passengers.
Another commuter, a public servant who works in Treasury and asked not to be named, said there would likely be a lot of anger from nearby workers who had no choice but to drive.
“There are not really a lot of alternatives in terms of public transport for the vast majority of people, so they need to use the car park for coming to work every day,” she said.
She said she might explore alternatives to driving over summer, but in winter would likely continue to drive and pay.
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said the government would be working with the NCA on possible changes to public transport within the Parliamentary Triangle as paid parking is implemented.
Ms Gallagher also said she would lobby her federal colleagues to ensure the revenue raised from the introduction of paid parking in the Parliamentary Triangle would benefit Canberrans.
She said the $72 million expected to be raised over three years would be a good revenue source for the underfunded National Capital Authority, as well as national institutions.
“It should be funnelled back into those services,” she said.
“That’s certainly the position I’ll be putting to the Commonwealth … the majority of this money will be raised by Canberrans, so it seems a bit tough that the money raised here would then be funnelled through to general consolidated revenue, particularly when the NCA has been under some stress financially.”
When asked about the likeliness of securing the revenue, Ms Gallagher said she could “only ask and campaign on that”.
“Paid parking is always controversial when it’s implemented, but it’s always made a little bit easier when you explain where that money’s going,” she said.
“There’s no doubt implementing paid parking is vexing … I’m sure we’ll see some turbulence around this but it’s really been on the cards for a long time now.”
- with Stephanie Anderson, David McLennan