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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 November 2021) . . Page.. 3285 ..


We are, in fact, dealing with a potentially serious problem here, and the old adage that bad news does not improve with age is a compelling one. It goes to the nub of this motion. I would also add that, as we move forward on this project and retrofit each of the LRVs to navigate the parliamentary triangle section of track wire free, I cannot see any other conclusion than that exercise would exacerbate this problem.

My understanding is that this retrofit will involve the installation of two very heavy batteries. The figures that I am working on are eight tonnes. I understand that the minister was asked questions on this in the chamber today, and certainly gave the indication that there was not a final decision here on the retrofitting—indeed, exactly which batteries are going to go on, or exactly where they are going to be on the roof of the vehicle. Surely, wherever you put heavy batteries, they will cause some pressure in areas where we do not want pressure to be caused.

Eight tonnes seems very heavy for a battery, but a lot of power storage is needed. One of the many things that I have discovered on my light rail nerd journey is that these CAF Urbos 3 vehicles do not have axles. The floor is flat. I did not know that. There is a motor powering each wheel, and that does use a lot of power.

All we are asking for here is for the government to take a couple of common-sense, precautionary steps to make sure that everything is okay and, if it is not, we will have to deal with the bad news. It may well be the case, of course, that our vehicles are all right and they do not have a problem—or, at least, they do not have one yet. But the stats look uncomfortably like they are running against us. So let us, at the very least, exercise a degree of prudence and do the things called for in this motion. If it turns out that everything is well and good, then this chamber and I can stop worrying—and, more importantly, so can the commuting public.

This motion is not an onerous one. We are simply asking for considered advice on the risks—not this instant, but in a reasonable time frame that permits a thorough assessment. I note that it appears that we may be in general agreement here, and I will speak very briefly to the proposed amendment after I have heard Mr Steel and others speak.

To complement this, we need a contingency plan in the event that a deeper level of precautionary assessment of modifications is needed. Worse still, and we find that we have a problem similar to Sydney’s, surely this has to be a worthwhile exercise. I would note that Mr Gentleman characterised this motion as a “zombie” idea earlier or, indeed, put it in that category. I understand that we have tripartisan support here, but I am assuming that Mr Gentleman will be the outlier.

That is all I have to say at this stage, and I look forward to hearing from Mr Steel and others.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (5.04): I thank Mr Parton for bringing forward this motion. Canberra’s light rail system is a central part of our public transport network. It makes up around one in five trips taken on public transport every day across Canberra. Pre-COVID, over 24,000 passengers a week were hopping aboard. It


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