Page 547 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 13 February 2013

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MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (6.25): I thank Mr Coe for raising in the Assembly the issue of light rail. This is, of course, a topic in which I and the Greens have a very strong interest, not just in the ACT but all around Australia as part of our commitment to improving public transport and building more sustainable and liveable cities. In the ACT the Greens released our light rail for Canberra policy before the 2012 election, and developing Canberra’s first light rail route became a key item in the Labor-Greens parliamentary agreement. Going forward we have the capital metro project, the shared goal of the Labor and Greens members of this Assembly and one that springboards from various studies and investigations done on light rail over many years.

Recently I had the nostalgic experience of watching a video from 1992 which was part of the sustainable Canberra project. That video made the case for light rail in Canberra as a way of improving our public transport, addressing urban sprawl and car dependence, reducing pollution and capturing the benefits of urban villages. It is now 20 years later, yet the problems we face now are strikingly similar. Only now the imperative to act is even stronger. We need to make our city more sustainable and liveable and also make our economy more resilient to pressures such as peaking oil supplies as well as the need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in the face of climate change.

The ACT Greens have supported light rail because we believe the ongoing benefits of this system make it the best choice, particularly over the long term as our city grows and develops. Light rail is not just about the Gungahlin corridor, although that is where a lot of Canberra’s growth is occurring. In line with the parliamentary agreement, the government is set to progress a light rail master plan detailing how and when the network will extend across Canberra to places like Woden, Tuggeranong and Belconnen. In light of the time today, I am trying to shorten my comments.

There are, of course, a range of recognised benefits to light rail, such as its ability to attract more passengers than buses, its additional speed and reliability and its compatibility with renewable energy as well as things like the sparks effect and the urban shaping effects, but I will talk about those more some other time. But all of these benefits are well researched, well documented and generally accepted.

The Liberal Party in Western Australia recently announced a large light rail project for Perth of which the Greens have been vocal supporters. The Western Australian Liberal Party are proud of their project, and their transport minister described it in glowing terms as:

… a transformational investment in public transport by our Government which will give the people of Perth access to the type of public transport offerings that exist in major cities all over the world.

A point I want to emphasise is that big projects such as capital metro and the Perth light rail project need to go through long and detailed stages of development, so not all of the information that Mr Coe is asking for today is available in its final detail.

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