Page 1753 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 June 2022

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Why is it that contracts for the delivery of stage 2A have not been signed yet? Why is that? According to earlier public documents, this contract was supposed to be awarded in mid-2020. I know we have had a pandemic. I get that. I know we have had a pandemic, and I can already hear the minister responding with those words. Irrespective of that, we are dragging the chain on this one. Stage 2A, on the official project time line from Transport Canberra, was supposed to commence, at least the construction of it, two full years ago. The government promised that they would be running trams to Commonwealth Park sometime in 2024. They have got Buckley’s.

Why are we waiting so long for the actual commencement of the genuine work of the raising of London Circuit? Again, we were originally told that this part of the project would be pretty much done by now. It was supposed to be done. Why have the vehicles that will be required for the operation of stage 2A not even been ordered? They have not even been ordered. Given the supply chain issues, how long will it take for those orders to be filled and how much more will it cost than was originally anticipated?

Why is the work on the bus depot at the new interchange at Woden so far behind the original projections? Why do we not know any more about the retrofitting of the light rail vehicles for wireless travel in the parliamentary triangle? Does the minister know what is going on or do they just not know what is going on? Why did federal Labor effectively withdraw its offer of financial infrastructure support for stage 2B? That is effectively what went on during the election campaign. The Libs left theirs on the table. Did Senator Gallagher and Prime Minister Albanese know more about this project than the people of Canberra do?

Where is the promised ticketing system? While we are on it, where is the promised ticketing system for the buses? Where is that? Or is this just reflective of a minister who cannot deliver anything on time? The people who voted for this project want to be sure that they are getting value for money, and they cannot be sure of that while this government point-blank refuses to give a clear picture.

The Auditor-General, in his report, was extremely critical of cost omissions from the economic analysis. He believed that the present value of the project cost estimate was understated for a variety of reasons, including the absence of a nominal cost figure for the development of the Acton waterfront, which is quite a big cost. So that was removed, but all of the potential benefit from Acton was left in. He basically said that all the numbers associated with the development of the Acton waterfront—these are not his words—do not hold water. There was no actual evidence on how light rail stage 2A would accelerate the Acton waterfront.

I do not know, Mr Assistant Speaker Cain, if you ever saw the movie Field of Dreams, but it just seems to be based on that “build it and they will come” quote. The Auditor-General observed that if the public cannot have faith in and do not have access to reasonable information in relation to this stage, it brings into question the veracity of information that is put out into the public domain for all future stages. That statement did not come from Max Flint or from Bill Stefaniak. It did not come from Jon Stanhope. It did not come from me. It came from the Auditor-General. God help us!

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