Page 583 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 11 February 2009

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history, when you have extra money coming from GST—significantly above expectations—and when you raise taxes every year, we should have more to show for it than we do.

We need to go into some of the detail of the government’s failures to deliver on infrastructure. We all know about the Tharwa Bridge. To many—and, we know, to this government—Tharwa Bridge was not important. Many would say, “Well, it is not that important; it is serving only a small part of our community, the community of Tharwa and southern Tuggeranong.” But it is a great demonstration of how this government has failed to deliver on infrastructure. It is also an important demonstration of how it has failed to care about communities when it does not believe that there are enough votes in it.

It is worth just going through the legacy. In 2005 John Hargreaves claimed that a new bridge would take two to three years to build. On 19 September 2006, Labor closed the bridge due to safety concerns. Labor waited until 17 January 2007 before they lodged a development application for a new bridge. On 15 February 2007, Labor ruled out investing $1.6 million on a temporary solution, claiming that it would not be a responsible use of taxpayer money. The spin doctoring is more about the fact that Labor thought fit to spend $700,000 on interim strengthening works in mid-2005.

On 23 January 2008, Jon Stanhope announced that the old bridge would be retained and that remedial works would occur to enable light traffic to use the bridge, pending full conservation works. Interim solutions were belittled one year but implemented the next. Labor’s latest story is that stage 1 works will take 20 weeks and stage 2 works will take three to four years on top of that. This is a significant blow-out on top of the initial estimate of a two to three-year project.

It is worth highlighting this, because this is one bridge. This is one bridge. They managed to get it so badly wrong that it became such a major issue that the Chief Minister had to step in when the former minister was not able to deal with it. Clearly, this government cannot deliver on bridges.

Let us have a look at roads. In 2001, Mr Stanhope promised to build the GDE by 2004, with four lanes, at a cost of $53 million. Jon Stanhope did not sign the first major works contract until November 2005, one year after the whole project should have been finished. The second contract was not signed until May 2006, two years after the road was originally scheduled to be finished. What about costings? After the 2001 election, Labor very quickly downsized the road from four lanes to two and blamed this on cost increases. The government’s 2002 estimate of $53 million for two lanes blew out five years later to $120 million for two lanes.

Labor knew for years that traffic would be close to capacity, yet it took until the eve of an election before they agreed that they would duplicate Gungahlin Drive—that they would do something that everyone knew was necessary. Everyone in Canberra knew that this road needed to be two lanes to service the growing community of Gungahlin. This mob did not care; they did not bother to do it. Their failure has not only cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars but also resulted in the extra delays that will now be experienced by the people of Gungahlin as they use a road that should

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