Page 3087 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 August 2013

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backed up by members of his own cabinet, is going to cost every household in the territory $4,400 for capital construction, whether they use the service or not. Of course, that does not take into account the ongoing costs with running this tram from the city through to Gungahlin.

It is interesting that Minister Corbell would accuse the Liberals of being in favour of bus rapid transit, which he says is simply not as good as light rail. Yet for years he has been a proponent of bus rapid transit. For years and years he has been banging on about the benefits of bus rapid transit. In fact, the government announced REDEX. That was meant to be rapid express, the 200 series going from Gungahlin to the city. Of course, it never was rapid express. By Minister Corbell’s own definition, rapid express has to be in a dedicated lane. The 200 service is very good; it is a great bus service. It is probably the best bus route in the entire network, but it is not rapid express. It is not on a dedicated bus lane.

The Canberra Liberals have been very careful about our words over the last month or two talking about the capital metro proposal. We find it interesting that the government’s own submission points to the benefits of bus rapid transit. Yet somehow they have made a decision to go ahead with light rail.

At what point, did Minister Corbell go on that tram to Damascus and abandon bus rapid transit in favour of light rail? At what point did he decide that it was worth while to spend $614 million of taxpayers’ money on this project? It certainly was not after he did the engineering study, because it has not been done. It certainly was not after he made a proper business case for this project, because it has not been done. It certainly was not after he went to an election clearly articulating that light rail would be an eventuality should they be returned.

There are so many questions about this project that need to be answered before the opposition will entertain the idea of spending $614 million of taxpayers’ money. There are many questions. I think many of these questions are, in fact, coming from his own cabinet, coming from his own government officials.

It is all very well for Minister Corbell and Minister Rattenbury to have a bit of a battle over light rail, but not at taxpayers’ expense. You can try and have this competition about who can out-left the other, but the fact is when you are dealing with taxpayers’ money, when you are the custodians of taxpayers’ money, you have an obligation to spend it wisely. I do not think we have seen that with regard to the light rail proposal.

The minister also had some pretty serious flaws in his argument. One of them is about this uplift, which is, of course, restricted by the lease variation charge. It is an uplift that has a tax which is contrary to the very intention or the stated intention of their policy. It is interesting that as I speak Minister Rattenbury is there chatting to Minister Corbell. I wonder how impressed Minister Rattenbury is with Minister Corbell’s selling of light rail. I imagine that Minister Rattenbury is furious about how the government has gone about selling this project to Canberrans.

Mr Hanson: He would do a better than job, wouldn’t he?

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