Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 25 November 2021) . . Page.. 3752 ..
To add to the complexities on light rail issues, there is the potential for major rectification works on our existing carriages. I would note that the New South Wales transport minister made the call in the last 24 hours to send two engineers to Birmingham to try and get a grasp of exactly how they will deal with their CAF Urbos 3 vehicles.
I appreciate that solutions to these issues are not straightforward and that much work is needed. My message to the government is: please share when you know what is happening, even if it involves broad approximations that need to be fine-tuned, because we are all going to pay for it.
The recent auditor’s report on the economic benefits of light rail certainly eroded the public’s confidence, with the anomalies and contradictory treatment of costs and benefits being of some particular concern. Perhaps a reasonable outcome from this budget would be the publication of a few things for us that would include something that addresses the issues raised by the Auditor-General. We need a revised case on the economic benefits and costs of light rail stage 2A. The capital and other project costs for light rail stage 2B need to be exposed, even if these are indicative. And we need some focused consideration of the affordability of stage 2B, taking into account the transport disruption and business impairment impacts.
On top of all of this, despite those opposite knocking back the suggestion in my motion on 7 October, I still reckon light rail stage 2 deserves the focus of a dedicated select committee, but I will leave that be.
Let us remember that we are dealing with the biggest infrastructure project in the history of our great city. A generation or more of Canberrans will be paying it off and we will have to suffer the traffic disruptions for some time. With all of these factors and risks at play, I think we owe Canberrans the best possible parliamentary scrutiny and the best possible standard of accountability. In my view, the government is not entitled to deny us that right.
MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (5.00): This year’s budget sees us getting on with delivering the biggest infrastructure project in the city’s history—light rail to Woden. Light rail to Woden is a central part of the government’s $5 billion pipeline of local major infrastructure projects that will underpin Canberra’s economic recovery during the COVID-19 recovery. Light rail will support over 6,000 direct jobs for stage 2 construction and many other indirect jobs through broader sectors of our economy. Most importantly, it is happening right now, when the economy needs it most.
The benefits of light rail will not stop at construction. Building light rail will help to make Canberra a more connected, vibrant and sustainable city. Stage 2 to Woden will provide more convenient, reliable transport options for people on the south side, help to prevent future traffic congestion and cut transport emissions, for a cleaner environment. Linking Woden in the south through to the city and on to Gungahlin in the north will create a central transport spine that better connects some of our major town centres with residential and employment hubs.