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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 1 Hansard (27 February) . . Page.. 286..


the community or the hard working capital metro officials very well if the extra committee time is used by the Liberal Party as a headline generator for a negative political campaign against light rail. That would be an egregious approach to what is a very important project.

I raise this issue because, unfortunately, there is already a history of this behaviour by Mr Coe in particular. You get a sense of this by doing a quick Google search for the phrase, "Coe and light rail," and a series of headlines then give a nice perspective on this. I think it is quite clear that at every turn Mr Coe is trying to grab a negative headline and to paint himself as the arch nemesis of this light rail project without ever actually saying he opposes it.

It is one thing to raise legitimate issues about government projects—I am all for that—but it is another when the issues raised are wrong or misleading and are put into the public domain where they mislead and confuse the public. Take Mr Coe's simplistic claim, for example, that light rail will cost over $400,000 per extra passenger. To get this headline he simply took the projected project cost and divided it by an estimated passenger increase for one random point in time with no consideration of other factors. It is almost like dividing two random numbers together, but it gets the negative result that he obviously wants. It does not take into account any factors like population growth, longevity of the rail system, environmental benefits, development opportunities or modal shift benefits on the whole transport network. Talk to anyone who works on economics or a transport project evaluation and they will laugh at this claim. It is obviously a political exercise.

Even sillier is the "Northbourne Avenue to be dug up for construction of city's light rail" headline. The claim of Mr Coe that the light rail project will require all of the road surface on Northbourne Avenue to be dug up and replaced was simply wrong. In fact, I had to issue a press release to try and make sure the public were not misled. The claim was based on a transport option study that was over a year old. Further project updates which had been released publicly by the government made it clear that Mr Coe's claim was wrong. It presented a revised proposal that did not require the complete digging up of Northbourne Avenue.

Naturally, it is a cause of concern when someone who obviously had not even read the available project updates comes in here to ask for more opportunities for scrutiny. Reading the publicly available information would be a very good start. Scrutiny is important, and Mr Coe is right that the project's scope means additional committee time is appropriate. But I am very keen that scrutiny is done with integrity and without the unhelpful negative politics that sometimes taints it.

I also note the Liberal Party has not expressed a desire for additional scrutiny for other large ACT projects in the past. For example, if we think of the almost $300 million Majura parkway project which, up until light rail, was up there as one of the largest capital projects in the ACT. I cannot recall being asked any questions about the project since I have been the minister responsible for this project. I have not seen any headlines about the Liberals' apparent scrutiny of that project. Funny that—it is a road, but there you go. In fact, the Greens raised a motion in the Assembly in 2011 to try and get more scrutiny of the Majura parkway project and the Liberals voted against it.


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