Page 870 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2006

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I guess, as the Chief Minister has said, the only upside of the new laws relating to unfair dismissal is that the ACT government will not be required to continue to fund the unfair dismissal claims that are generated by the Liberal opposition. I think last term there were four or five unfair dismissals generated from that side. There were none from the Democrats, none from the Labor Party, none from the Greens but four or five from over there. So we will be forwarding that saving on to the functional review. No longer will we have to fund your mess.

Belconnen to Civic busway

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for Planning. I refer to your announcement of 9 March 2006 that a tunnel will now form the centrepiece for the proposed Belconnen to Civic busway, which is now reported to cost $115 million. Given that the busway was previously expected to cost between $85 million and $150 million, how has the $115 million figure been arrived at? Is this figure conservative? What is the upper range of what the proposed busway is now expected to cost?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Seselja for the question. The point that has to be made, unfortunately, again for Mr Seselja—I know it is a simple point, but he keeps missing it—is that the government is doing an analysis of the constraints, costs and benefits of these routes. With this significant engineering task, you need to understand all our decision detail to be able to determine the exact cost.

I know that Mr Seselja was away, but I announced two routes for assessment, both of which involve a degree of tunnelling and/or underpasses, that is, bridges, for this important piece of future public transport provision. Those routes will now be the subject of detailed analysis, including a full environmental impact of both those routes as well as a closer look at the engineering issues around both those routes, so that an appropriate and detailed assessment and cost-benefit assessment can be put before the government at a later date. That is the work we are doing. The government is committed to tracking the issue of climate change in that community and ameliorating the worst impacts of climate change, through encouraging and putting in place infrastructure to encourage people to change the way they undertake some of their journeys in Canberra.

Why is that important? It is important because transport use is the second most significant generator of greenhouse gas emissions in our city. We must take steps to encourage people to consider alternatives to the use of the private motor vehicle for at least some of their journeys if we are to ameliorate the worst elements of climate change and make our contribution, as a city, which is, per capita, a significant generator of greenhouse gas emissions. That is not only in Australian terms, that is in world terms. That is the work that is being undertaken.

The figure of $115 million is the best assessment, based on engineering advice to date. Clearly, more assessment is now being undertaken. That will help inform and refine those assessments and allow the government to consider further the cost and benefit of these projects in terms of potential construction.

MR SESELJA: Minister, is it not true that you made your announcement on 9 March without the knowledge of your cabinet colleagues?

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