Page 3831 - Week 11 - Thursday, 24 November 2022

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Let’s be honest about it: the announcement of stage 2 to Woden was sandbagging Murrumbidgee. Let’s be honest about it. I have spoken to people who were on that team who were extremely surprised when the announcement was made because they were of the belief that it was probably going to Belconnen. We all know that that announcement was made to sandbag Murrumbidgee. What I am saying is: don’t come in here and talk about pork-barrelling. When and where? They are very fair questions. We are also calling for a cost estimate of the entire project and a public statement about when the business case will be made public; that is all. That is all we are asking for: how much is it going to cost, who benefits and when is it going to be finished? I think they are fair questions.

Over here, on the adult side of the chamber, we have estimated the cost and the delivery date of the project. We base this on the information that the government has provided—which is quite sparse, it must be said. We have run that information past transport engineers and other experts in the field. With the help of outside experts, we have arrived at a figure of $3.042 billion for the entire project, stage 2 to Woden, with a completion date of 2034.

I put these figures to the minister publicly. He has not corrected them. I, together with most Canberrans, can only assume that those figures are correct. This motion simply calls upon the minister to confirm those figures, deny them or correct them. He can do it here, right now, because he would know the numbers. Again, let us be brutally honest about this: there is no possible way that the government are lurching forward with this project without some idea as to when it will be delivered and what the cost will be. Indeed, if that is the case, you have to question how they are running the place. We just want to know what it will cost and when it will be delivered.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (4.25): The ACT government is delivering on the election commitment to build a better public transport system, with work already underway on building stage 2A to Commonwealth Park, starting with the raising of London Circuit.

The ACT is the fastest growing jurisdiction in Australia, according to the 2021 census. With more people living and working in Canberra, it is vital that the government finds new ways to efficiently move our larger population around quickly, easily and sustainably, avoiding the same problems of congestion that other cities face. An integrated public transport network is key to delivering on our vision for a connected, sustainable and vibrant city. That is why the ACT government is making a long-term, future-focused investment in our city and building Canberra’s first mass transit system in light rail.

Stage 1 of light rail has already been built, and it has exceeded expectations. Light rail stage 1 from the city to Gungahlin has increased patronage on public transport and supported significant urban regeneration along the corridor. The frequent, comfortable and reliable services provided by stage 1 of light rail have been embraced by Canberrans on the north side. We want to extend those same benefits to the residents of the south side.

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