Page 4201 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 21 September 2011

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(e) develop and cost a proposal for light rail routes that the ACT could begin constructing in the absence of federal assistance;

(f) prioritise sustainable freight transport by developing a rail precinct in the vicinity of East Lake/Fyshwick, which includes rail freight facilities such as an intermodal freight hub;

(g) meet with relevant federal ministers and request federal support for ACT rail projects;

(h) engage with the NSW government and local NSW councils to co-ordinate improved cross-border rail services; and

(i) report to the Assembly on the progress of the above during the first Assembly sitting week of 2012, and in the first sitting week after 30 June 2012.

This is a motion that calls on the ACT government to advance the development of rail in the ACT. It is a motion that I would expect all of us in the Assembly could agree on, as I would hope we all want better transport in Canberra and want to address the transport and environmental challenges of the future. The motion calls for action on a number of different rail projects. It covers light rail, high speed rail, rail freight and regional rail. Each of these aspects of rail is very important on its own and there are very real and practical steps that the government can take in each of these areas. If the government were to progress rail in one of these categories, it would result in great benefits to the ACT and its residents.

Rail is a viable and sustainable option and can meet future transport needs in Canberra. Rail makes economic, environmental and social sense. It is unfortunate that throughout Canberra’s history rail has largely remained an overlooked and undervalued transport mode. Walter Burley Griffin first recognised the value of rail in Canberra but his dream was never realised.

Canberra’s transport planning and the city have primarily developed around car use. The 1970 tomorrow’s Canberra plan, for example, was described by the National Capital Development Commission as follows:

The plan was influenced by the application of land-use/transport planning techniques which were popular amongst the engineers and town planners in the 1960’s. It reflected the clear acceptance of the private car as the principal mode of transport for all trips, particularly the journey to work.

This is a plan that is still influential today. It is a 40-year-old plan that first proposed the Majura parkway. The Greens have advocated long and hard to break from this status quo. It is an outdated and disproven approach to planning successful cities and will not address the future challenges we face.

I will focus on the importance of rail, the opportunities we have to develop rail in Canberra and the immense benefits it can bring. Through this motion, the Greens are proposing concrete steps to progress the ACT’s efforts on rail projects.

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