Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3477..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
Before I go into a rather lengthy dissertation in terms of how much of the capital works has been spent and how the government, even in its promise of $1 billion over five years, has actually scaled back its capital works budget, can I say that I think the government's failure in terms of planning and delivery of infrastructure in the ACT can really be highlighted by dealing with a number of projects. The one that really springs to mind to start with is the GDE.
The GDE, as you know, Mr Speaker, has been around for a long time. There was an Assembly committee in the nineties which looked at it. It recommended, for a four-lane road with two lanes each way, the western route. There was then a rather tortuous history dating from about 2000 until fairly recently, with the current government not liking that route. That caused a lot of delays. There were federal government concerns as well. There were court actions by the Save the Ridge people, naturally enough, as was their right. You may not agree with them but they had the right to take the matter to court, so we had further delays.
It was a project that initially was costed at about $53 million and it has blown out to well and truly over $100 million, and it is going to cost well and truly over $100 million more to fix it. But at the end of the day, after all of those processes, and after finding that it had to go on the eastern route, which is where it should have gone all the way through, if it was built at all, it is clear that it should have been built with two lanes each way. For some inexplicable reason, the government built a very expensive road, costing $130 million or more, which had one lane each way.
I remember asking the minister for transport a question several months ago—in fact, it was probably longer ago than that—about what would happen with this marvellous one-lane road if a big truck broke down on a bridge. It would be unusable, basically, for hours and hours on end. It is a lovely road for 22 hours of the day, but for one hour in the morning and one hour at night, it is a nightmare. Having just been on it at about 8.30 to 8.40, in turning right at Belconnen Way to go around Black Mountain, after about 15 minutes and having advanced about 70 metres, I managed to turn onto the off-road to Aranda. So it is an absolute nightmare.
That was a road that the government knew, or certainly should have known, would be at capacity, even before Mr Hargreaves cut the ribbon to open it. That was a road that the government, through its minister, said at the time would not be duplicated for five to 10 years. We then saw the rather unedifying spectacle of the government jumping in to try to gazump an opposition election announcement that we would do the bleeding obvious, which we intended to do when the thing first got the tick-off in about 1999—that is, build Gungahlin Drive with two lanes going south and two lanes going north. The government jumped in and made a very hurried promise in relation to that.
How much is that going to cost the ACT? What an absolute fiasco! Blind Freddy could have told you that that road should have been a four-lane road, not a two-lane road. It was painfully obvious, yet the government went ahead on that basis. I do not know how much money the government has wasted on that, not to mention time and not to mention people's frustration, especially those in Gungahlin, in terms of that much-needed facility. The fact is that we are going to have to spend another