Page 4254 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 27 November 2013

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10 journeys, all journeys, are by private motor vehicle. Our question, as members of this place, is: do we continue to consign Gungahlin residents to that car dependent future, with all the costs that come with it—rising fuel, registration and so on—or do we give them some good transport choices? And do we invest in a transport technology that is going to see them through for the long term? That is what this project is about, that is why it is important and that is why the government is getting on with the job. I thank Mr Gentleman for bringing this motion to the Assembly today.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.40): I welcome Mr Gentleman bringing forward this motion today because it gives me the opportunity to discuss the progress that is being made on delivering light rail to Canberra. Mr Gentleman has made a number of good points in his motion about where things are up to and the benefits that will come from light rail, and I am pleased to offer my thoughts on that. I think it is well known in this place that I do support light rail as a project that will deliver benefits for Canberra long into the future. It will deliver transport outcomes, environmental outcomes and economic outcomes, and I have put those views in the past. I think that is the sort of investment that government needs to make for the future of this city.

In terms of progress that has been made, Mr Gentleman has touched on that in his motion but I think the appointment of key staff has been a significant step. There was some discussion earlier about who those staff are. I think that we have managed to get on board staff with considerable experience and proven track records when it comes to delivering these sorts of projects. Of course, they are not in the public eye, and the public probably have not seen much difference yet, in that a lot of the work that has being going on has been key work in the background in terms of developing governance structures, doing the necessary planning and the like. Perhaps that would leave the public in a bit of uncertainty, but I think we can assure the community that a lot of work has been going on and that these are necessary steps in the planning and development phase.

What has also been very interesting from my perspective has been the industry reaction to the political commitment to move ahead with light rail. What we have seen is significant interest across a range of industry sectors in getting involved in this project and getting involved in the ACT. Whether it is the people who actually want to provide the light rail system itself or the people who are looking at other economic opportunities that will arise around the development of light rail, there has been considerable interest. Certainly I speak for myself in saying that the number of people who have approached me, saying, “How do we get more information? We are interested in investing in the territory,” is very positive for the future of this city and reflects well on the ACT as a place where significant companies from outside the territory are interested to come and work.

One of the key issues, I think, in today’s debate, particularly in light of Mr Hanson’s remarks, is that the decision to do something is critically important. You can ask questions until the cows come home and you can ask questions until the traffic is backed up on Northbourne Avenue more than anybody can bear, but there comes a point where leaders have to stand up and make decisions and say it is time to go forward.

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