Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 560 ..
Mrs Cross: But you didn't say this last year, Karin. I don't remember you bringing this up last year.
MS MacDONALD: Certainly, they were very enthusiastic about it when I was talking to them face to face. I may not have risen in this place and spoken about it, but that does not mean that I have not been supportive of this issue, Mrs Cross. I have risen now just to say that I think that we need to be mindful that we cannot treat one area of Canberra as having priority over the other. That is why I support Mr Corbell's amendment to omit part (a) of paragraph (3).
MS DUNDAS (4.37): Mr Speaker, I will also be addressing the substantive motion as moved by Ms Tucker. On behalf of the ACT Democrats, I am happy to support Ms Tucker's motion today. The Democrats have long supported the introduction of improved public transport options, particularly in Canberra. During and since the election I have been advocating the introduction of a light rail network in Canberra. I am glad to see that the government is exploring options for the introduction of such a light rail grid.
Canberra, unfortunately, is poorly served by public transport, which means that our city uses large amounts of fuel, which make up one of the largest contributions to greenhouse gas production and air pollution. The cost of car purchases and increasing maintenance and fuel costs add to the cost of living of Canberra residents. Private vehicles are also a significant cause of injury and death on our roads, requiring continuing hospital funding as well as expensive safety campaigns and policing. Quite simply, it is unsustainable for Canberra to continue to rely so heavily on cars to provide our internal city transport.
While the planned nature of our city is one of its greatest assets, the assumptions by past planners of high private vehicle use has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. By building large-scale road networks instead of investing in public transport systems, past federal and local governments have made it difficult to live in Canberra without a car.
The ACT government still spends drastically more on roads than it does on public transport, at a ratio approaching 20:1, and it will take a committed and forward-looking government to redress this unsuitable and unsustainable imbalance.
We need to invest in public transport technologies now to reap the benefits for the future. Light rail is a cleaner, faster, more efficient and more reliable public transport system than the current bus network. Like most long-term investments, it has a high capital cost, but that is far outweighed by the long-term benefits.
We are not suggesting that we build the entire network at once, which is one of the main issues associated with costs. Our entire road network was not built in a year, but if it was and we added up the total cost we would find that it was quite astronomical. If we break down the sectors and look at building it sector by sector, we can manage the costs more efficiently.
The information released recently by the government on preliminary work on light rail details an option of a light rail link from Acton, through the city, to Manuka and Barton. This work does demonstrate that the government is taking the light rail option seriously. I encourage the government to continue this work. However, this debate needs to include