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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 902 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

"It is no surprise that the longer route would also not be viable without significant taxpayer help," Mr Ferguson said.

"I could never understand why he needed to spend $20 million to work that out.

"The government has blown a fortune on this feasibility study-money that could have been spent on upgrading the mainland interstate freight line or port access works."

I have said here that the ACT Liberal Party is prepared to support this motion unamended, because we want an unequivocal statement to be on the record in this place that we believe the fast train project is important and that we believe the federal government's role in continuing to pursue a feasibility study is critical to keeping the project on the national drawing board.

It needs to be recorded in this debate that there is a fairly large degree of hypocrisy by the Labor Party in moving this motion, in that they have overlooked the fact that the at best lukewarm support and at worst damning comments by both the New South Wales Labor government and the federal Labor opposition have contributed to the situation today where this project is in serious jeopardy. If those two parties had been more supportive, it may well be that a better approach and more positive approach would have been taken by the federal government as well.

It is fine in a spirit of bipartisanship to call for support for motions to condemn the federal Liberal government or to express concern about the federal Liberal government's position, but I do not recall a spirit of bipartisanship in the last few years when similar motions have been moved about positions taken by federal Labor, particularly in the years when the Hawke and Keating governments were in power. In fact, I think the record will show that every motion moved to take to task the federal Labor government was opposed by the then ACT Labor government or opposition, as the case may have been. There was no spirit of bipartisanship on those occasions.

I believe that this nation needs a very fast train. I believe that 50 years from today we will have a very fast train, because it will be inevitable that such a facility will exist in this nation. I believe it will be foresighted of all of us to make sure it happens much sooner than 50 years from now. But we do need to send a signal today, and therefore this motion has our support, to make sure that the federal government does not overlook the need to keep this project on the rails-excuse the pun-and does not overlook the fact that positive public financial support is a critical element in making that happen over the next few generations.

MS DUNDAS (12.18): I wish to add the voice of the Australian Democrats to support for this motion. In this country we continue to rely far too heavily on road and air transport to move people between cities and states. This means we have to continue to spend billions upon billions of dollars to continually maintain and upgrade our roads and control our air traffic, and it maintains our dependence on polluting fossil fuels. A fast rail link would be a price competitive, fast and efficient mass transport option to link Sydney and Canberra.

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