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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 June 2018) . . Page.. 2076 ..

I acknowledge what is stated in the amended motion, that the light rail business link program has had 225 participants to date. But this is not representative of the business community that has been impacted. There are over 400 businesses in Mitchell, let alone the businesses in Franklin, Harrison and Gungahlin. If you add them all up, I am sure there are more than 1,500 businesses.

Given the widespread impact, this motion seeks an independent assessment of the impact of light rail on businesses, with two outcomes: one is a report being provided back to the Assembly to inform future decision-making. This report is intended to assess the financial impacts to businesses to determine if there has been a case for financial compensation.

I am determined to work with the government to ensure that this review is not a box-ticking exercise but that it provides an objective, independent assessment of the impacts on business. I want to see that every business along the light rail corridor, not just Gungahlin, is provided with an opportunity to have their say by using financial statements and other evidence. I am confident that this assessment will establish a link between the light rail project and other construction in the area that is affecting business.

This report will also provide a real, lived experience of this project so that lessons learnt can be applied to future large-scale infrastructure projects across the ACT. I would hate to see the hurt and loss experienced by business owners during light rail construction repeated in the future. No longer can the risk to business be seen as residual, the impact “possible” and the consequences “minor”. No longer can the public servants casually note in their business case that there will be benefits for business without actually investigating, consulting and communicating with the business community.

What the Canberra Liberals are seeking is a review of the facts. We are asking for businesses to be given the opportunity to provide evidence of financial loss and for the review to determine how much of that loss is directly attributed to the light rail versus other market forces and environmental factors occurring in the area. At the end of the day, if this government deny business an opportunity, they are not only showing their true colours when it comes to supporting business; they are also, by default, admitting there is a problem.

I ask that members reflect and really ask themselves whether the burden of government incompetence when it comes to the management of light rail construction should be worn by business. The Canberra Liberals do not think so and we believe businesses in Canberra deserve better.

Amendment agreed to.

Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.

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