Page 4217 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 21 September 2011

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I would like to briefly mention one of the most important reasons that we should be supporting rail, and one unfortunately that neither side has mentioned as yet—that is, peak oil. The International Energy Agency—I happen to have a printout from November 2010—estimates that we reached a peak of crude oil production maybe in 2008 or 2006. But whatever that date may be, we have definitely peaked. One of the many advantages of rail is that it is quite easily powered by electricity. In fact, light rail is normally powered by electricity and high speed rail is also often powered by electricity.

Electricity has the advantage that it is fairly readily produced from a wide variety of renewable sources. That is not so for petrol and oil. There are ways of producing this from renewable sources, but they all require a lot of land, and this is land which normally could be better used for producing food. Given that transport is a considerable requirement of modern communities—and certainly a requirement of Canberra given the way that it has been developed—it behoves all of us to look at what we can do to our transport system to seriously make it work better with less availability of petrol and with petrol and oil being more expensive. I would hope that all parties in this Assembly are concerned about cost of living for average Canberrans, and the Greens contend that rail and public transport and a reduced emphasis on private cars is one way to significantly reduce cost-of-living pressures on Canberra households.

In the brief time I have left to me, I would also like to talk some more on Mr Corbell’s point that the Greens want it all now. One of the reasons we want it all now and why we want the government to start prioritising things better is to avoid spending money which is not well used. A good example could be the Majura parkway. The money that is going to be spent on that could probably build the light rail route from Gungahlin to Civic. If you look at it from a long-term point of view, that would be a much better use of the money. (Time expired.)

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (4.25): The Greens will not support Mr Corbell’s proposed amendment to my motion. Mr Corbell’s proposed amendment would effectively turn the Greens’ motion to nothing. It is an amendment that says that the government will not do anything on rail and that even removes the parts of my motion that note the benefits of rail and the opportunities that rail would bring to Canberra.

Given the government’s frequent claims to be committed to sustainable transport, I am very surprised that it would present an amendment like this. I am disappointed by the obvious gulf between what the government is willing to say and what it is willing to do, as evidenced by this amendment.

I had expected that this motion would get support from the government and the Liberal Party. It asks the government to take sensible steps to progress a number of rail projects. These are steps that the government needs to take but continues to overlook.

Our motion asks for action on high speed rail, for timely consultation with the Canberra community and for a proposal to the federal government to prioritise the Canberra routes. It asks the government to facilitate the finalisation of routes and stations. Mr Corbell’s proposed amendment takes that out.

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