Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 21 August 2008) . . Page.. 3480 ..
The Chief Minister is right, of course: infrastructure is an essential input for almost all economic activities. But in order for that input to have any effectiveness at all, it has to be delivered, and it has to be delivered on time and on budget. The government, in its record on delivery, stands condemned.
That is also why the territory is not where it should be economically. When you look back at the botched major infrastructure projects, the government has blindly gone off and done things that the average man or woman in the street would just scratch their heads about. I refer again to the GDE—a project that had been there for so long. Clearly, once you decide to go ahead with it, you should do it properly. Once a route is actually selected, you should do it properly. With a growing area in Gungahlin—and we are lucky here in Canberra; we do not have a huge amount of peak hour traffic—it is painfully obvious to anyone that even a moderate amount of traffic on a one-lane road each way is going to cause some bottlenecks at peak hour, and that is exactly what we are seeing. Of course, we had the panicky attempt to get out of it. It was just like the amazing contortions we saw from the government on the gas-fired power station.
A lot of this comes down to consulting with the community. If you want to get major infrastructure projects through—you are always going to have nimbies; you never completely satisfy them—and if you want to take most of the people with you, you talk to them. The gas-fired power station is a classic case in point. If the government had done that properly and had talked to people, maybe it could have ruled out some sites pretty early in the piece, such as the obvious one at Macarthur. Maybe it could have saved itself a hell of a lot of trouble. In 2007 it could have said: “Well, we’re looking at this power station. Here’s a few sites we could put it on.” There could have been community consultation. Naturally, the obviously bad ones would be ruled out. And then you might get somewhere. We might end up with a reasonable piece of infrastructure that is built on time, and that will really benefit the people of the ACT, rather than arrogantly and arbitrarily saying, “Right, this is what we’re actually going to do,” and not engaging in any meaningful consultation.
Clearly, in terms of planning and delivery of infrastructure projects, the government has badly failed the people of the ACT. Because it is such an important area it can be a very costly failure, not just in terms of the frustration that people feel, for example, about the GDE at present, but in terms of really helping the economic advancement of the ACT. I think the government has seriously dropped the ball here. Of course, it will be judged at the election that is coming up very shortly.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts) (4.27): I thank the member for raising this matter of very significant importance to the community. I also thank the member for providing the government with an opportunity to highlight its reforms and achievements so far, as well as its plans and commitments for the future in relation to infrastructure.
As articulated on 3 July 2008, in response to a very similar matter of public importance from the opposition, the government understands the importance of