Page 4248 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 27 November 2013
framed in this cynical and negative manner? Mr Coe has accused the government of being reckless. I would argue that, far from being reckless, the government is carefully considering and planning for the future of this city. It is the opposition that is being reckless by continuing, albeit inconsistently, to undermine this long overdue project.
We have listened to the community and we have worked hard to create a vision that is true to their wishes and needs. Research indicates that over 98 per cent of the community support improvements to the Northbourne Avenue corridor, an area suffering increasing congestion and that is in need of radical revitalisation. The community wants bold action and a vision for the future. The capital metro project is just one part of the government’s vision for the city. We believe in making the right investment decisions right now, and we have the foresight and vision to plan for the future.
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.17): I am not sure whether that was a speech about light rail or Mr Coe. Mr Gentleman seemed somewhat obsessed. I think it is somewhat the case when you are in opposition that if the government start praising you, you are probably in a bit of trouble. But when the government are out there making speeches attacking you, it probably means you are on the money. It probably means you are getting under their skin and pointing out the errors of their ways. I think that is exactly what we have here. We have Mr Gentleman—and no doubt the rest of the mob over there will join in—criticising Mr Coe. I think that is a badge of honour that he would wear proudly. I take this opportunity at the outset to congratulate Mr Coe on the analysis he has provided. Clearly, his having cut through, the government are concerned, because I think he is pointing out some truisms about the flaws in their project.
What we have here again is a superficial motion about light rail before the government has made the case as to why $614 million of taxpayers’ money should be spent on this project. As we have said in the past, we believe many people like the idea of catching a tram from point A to point B. However, here in the ACT, I am concerned that point A to point B for the light rail project will not mean there is adequate demand to justify the extraordinary expense.
To a certain extent, I think Canberrans, and perhaps all Australians, have been inoculated against the shock of governments spending such vast sums of money. The ACT government talks about spending hundreds of millions on dams, the GDE, city to the lake, light rail and a new stadium, as if there is money to burn. This complacent and arrogant government are continually treating taxpayers’ money as their own, rather than it belonging to the individuals that have worked hard for it. The sheer fact that the government can tax and spend does not mean that they should.
The ACT light rail project is politically motivated, not transport or economically motivated. Of course, if the government really were determined to construct rapid transit down Northbourne Avenue, why did they abandon bus rapid transit? Their own submission to Infrastructure Australia said that bus rapid transit would see a better return on investment than would light rail. This point was not lost on Infrastructure Australia, who said in their assessment of the ACT government’s proposal: