Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 November 2021) . . Page.. 3284 ..
the decision to procure these vehicles anyway. Concerns with the CAF Urbos 3 light rail vehicles go back to 2014, which was well before this government decided that they were the best option. I would be extremely surprised if these issues were not raised with government prior to the purchase.
Needless to say, it would be most interesting to see what sort of technical advice influenced the government’s purchasing decision. Surely, one of the considerations would have involved a few questions on the engineering quality, life and type expectations for the basic design of these LRVs. Given these developments, surely this chamber would benefit from a run-down on what led the procurement evaluation body to recommend this particular vehicle.
I should, obviously, try not to be too negative about this issue. I am very grateful for the public exposure of this problem, as we now have enough warning to do something about having a thorough examination of our vehicles. If nothing else, the timing of the purchase of our vehicles, as opposed to the ones in Sydney, in theory, gives us potentially a little time. It is my understanding that the cracking of the wheel arches cannot simply be picked up, though, through a casual browse; rather, it needs a pretty forensic detection process.
I have had lengthy discussions with the office of the New South Wales transport minister, and I have been told that the exercise to find the wheel arch cracks was massive. It involved the removal of the floor on one of the LRVs and, even upon doing that, the engineers were confronted with a really thick coat of noise pollution paint that had to be stripped back before they finally got to see the cracks.
Given how extreme that exercise was, I do not believe that we in the Assembly, or the Canberra community, should accept a quick nod and a wink from the transport minister, and a sort of, “She’ll be right, Jack. We’ve had a bit of a squiz; we’ve had a bit of a look and it seems to be okay.”
I would note that I received advice from Mr Steel’s office within two hours of the Rob Stokes press conference on Friday afternoon, assuring me that everything was hunky-dory. Again, my internal response was: given the extreme nature of the New South Wales exercise in actually finding the problem, how could you possibly say with any degree of certainty that the same issue does not exist here, within two hours of that press conference?
The question is: should we take a closer look? Given the mounting evidence from around the world and given what has happened in Sydney, surely, a resounding yes from this chamber would be a no-brainer. Those with any appreciation of risk management planning will know that any outcome that presents a potentially catastrophic consequence ought to have strategies to mitigate or eliminate that consequence. The consequences are not flash, if our light rail vehicles end up being taken out of service.
If our light rail vehicles did in fact have a problem, the problem will give us enormous grief. I dread the thought of where we would find the buses to plug the gap. I am sure that the minister would be somewhat perturbed by that as well.