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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 25 November 2021) . . Page.. 3751 ..

Major Projects Canberra—Part 1.11.

MR PARTON (Brindabella) (4.55): The Major Projects Canberra organisation is a pretty important one for all of us. It has responsibility for delivering some projects, and they are all quite major. In delivering some of the largest capital initiatives in Canberra’s history, it is responsible for a whole range of project planning, purchasing and contract management functions on behalf of various agencies. So it does play a genuine role in shaping our future.

This organisation has a few big ones on its plate at the moment, including the Canberra Hospital expansion, the city to Woden light rail project and the Woden CIT. Of course, another issue that is lurking in the background—nonetheless a quite important one—is the rectification of combustible cladding problems in government-owned buildings and eligible private buildings.

I have covered much of what I wanted to say about Major Projects Canberra, because we rolled it into my address on the transport appropriation. But there are a few further points that I want to make, briefly. This agency’s tasks on design for and construction of light rail stages 2A and 2B are near and dear to my day job very often and have far-reaching consequences for a good part of our entire community.

There are a few enduring principles that the government ought to observe in dealing with the light rail project and the community it was elected to serve. The textbooks used to say that we are entitled to some basic things in regard to public governance, and I want to reiterate them for those in the chamber.

With respect to transparency, we in the community are entitled to be kept well informed on this massive project, including schedule costs and impacts on the community. More specifically, we need a better idea of costs. Canberrans could be paying this project off for generations. We deserve a far better understanding of what it could actually cost, compared to what we know at the moment. We deserve to be told about how all of this will be paid for. Will the government take out more loans? Will it raise taxes? Will it defer other projects to get funding offsets? What is going to happen there?

The scoping contract for the light rail project suggests very significant uncertainty, including technical uncertainty over structural works. The impact of these uncertainties on completion timing could be substantial, with the potential for many years of disruptive works across a lengthy expanse of Canberra. The management of all of this will be of great interest to the community, including how long it will last for. I know that Mr Steel will suggest, “Those Liberals are against light rail.”

Mr Steel: Do you support it?

MR PARTON: Again, this is a massive project, and Canberrans deserve to know exactly how it will be delivered. Of course we support light rail. It is there. Of course we support light rail. Again, there is this ridiculous belief that, if you are being critical of a data breach, somehow you are not supportive of the hospital. It is ridiculous.

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