Page 118 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 15 February 2006

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Motion agreed to.

Belconnen to Civic busway

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (12.15): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes the recent comments of both the Chief Minister and the Treasurer which cast doubt over the future of the Belconnen to Civic busway;

(2) expresses its concern at the expenditure of millions of dollars on planning work for the Belconnen to Civic busway which has included entering into a contract for marketing of the busway; and

(3) calls on the Government to:

(a) inform the community of whether or not the busway will go ahead, and if so, the proposed timeframe for the project; and

(b) abandon the busway project.

The rationale for this motion today is simple, and it is essentially twofold. Firstly, the ACT opposition has had a consistent position on the Belconnen to Civic busway as proposed by Simon Corbell, and that is that it is a bad idea and it should not go ahead. I will come back to that later. Secondly, public statements recently by Mr Corbell’s ministerial colleagues have suggested that they also share our concerns about the busway and may be backing away from the government’s commitment to the busway. The confusion does need to be resolved, and that is part of the reason for bringing this motion today.

I will speak about the merits of the busway, as that is the first question we need to address. The question is: is spending $150 million on a busway between Belconnen town centre and Civic a good idea? I submit that the answer is no. We have heard that the busway will reduce the journey from the Belconnen interchange to Civic by around three minutes. I do not think anyone would suggest or believe that a saving of three minutes between town centres will get thousands of Canberrans onto buses; nor would such a saving justify an outlay of around $150 million.

The minister has occasionally tried to claim a 15-minute saving. Let us go into that a little bit. The minister has said that people in West Belconnen will save 15 minutes. But the busway only goes between Belconnen town centre and Civic, and what we heard in question time when I have quizzed the minister on this is that the busway will save people about three minutes on current projections. So let us not get confused about how people in West Belconnen under all sorts of other arrangements may or may not save time. Those changes may well have a lot of merit. But what we are talking about here is whether spending $150 million on a busway between two of our major town centres that will save three minutes is justified. And, once again, the opposition and many others believe that it is not.

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