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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 556 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

members received the draft terms of reference as a result of an Assembly debate last year-that the terms of reference include analysis of various public transport options, including light rail and bus systems. This study is in progress and a draft report is due for release shortly as a basis for further community discussion.

The government's vision for Canberra is that Civic and our town centres are vibrant and attractive places to shop, to visit, to live in and to study in. Civic will always be the first among equals because of its pre-eminent social and cultural role, but our town centres are equally important in providing the access to services and facilities that our communities need.

As was pointed out in the discussion paper for the economic white paper, Canberra needs to be a vibrant and attractive place, one that attracts and retains the skilled, creative and well-educated workers of a knowledge-based economy. I have always argued, and I will continue to argue, that effective planning is central to our economic wellbeing, and effective management of transport is an important component of that planning process.

The public transport futures feasibility study is examining a range of public transport options. It was in this context that the idea of a light rail system for the inner areas of Canberra was developed. Such a system would have obvious benefits in terms of supporting the revitalisation of Civic, making it more pedestrian-friendly and reducing the need for some of the car parking that is so prevalent in Civic at present.

The proposed route for an inner Canberra system is simply a proposal. It is not a recommendation. It is a concept that the government has put on the table partly as a way of engendering broader debate about how we want potential light rail to work in our city. It is not the government saying no to other parts of the city because, as I said in question time yesterday, the government is yet to make any decisions about whether light rail will even occur. It is certainly not about precluding parts of our community from potential access to such a network, particularly Gungahlin.

The concept of the inner Canberra system is not intended to be a principal commuter route, but it would provide mobility around these key areas for workers, encouraging them to look at options such as commuting to work by bus through the intertown network that ACTION will shortly be promoting. It will also provide opportunities for park and ride facilities on the edge of the city and, potentially, in other areas, such as Mitchell.

Perhaps its greatest potential strength is that it would provide the basis for further development of a light rail network. Once links from other areas were connected to this network, they would immediately have access to Civic, the ANU, Russell, Barton, Manuka and Kingston, greatly increasing the number of commuter trips on these routes. Such a system could benefit almost all residents and visitors to Canberra as most people do use the central area, either for work or for play.

As I just said, the inner Canberra light rail system is not a recommendation, but it is one of a number of ideas being investigated. This system is one of a number of options being investigated within the public transport futures feasibility study. Other options do include a light rail system to Gungahlin. The study is also examining bus transit systems for the intertown routes. Again, the focus is not on a particular technology; it is about looking at

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