Page 4264 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 27 November 2013

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We have heard the usual criticism from the Canberra Liberals, the same short-sighted arguments and the same lack of vision. But it was not always so, as those opposite should be so well aware. Call me an optimist, but I believe that there are some in the Canberra Liberal ranks who are embarrassed by the narrow-mindedness of their leadership team on the issue of light rail. I believe that there must be some in the Canberra Liberals who believe that light rail is the right choice for Canberra, the circuit breaker our city needs to get more people out of their cars and into sustainable transport options, as Mrs Dunne so eloquently put it in a media release back in 2003.

So Mrs Dunne has a long-burning passion over a decade for light rail. Her words in 2003 were, “To wean a car-addicted populace away from its habit, we have to demonstrate that there are quicker and more effective ways to commute, which means addressing both the vehicles and the infrastructure as an integrated system.” They are very wise words from Mrs Dunne. We have again heard the criticism of the cost of this project without taking into account the enormous benefits, both economic and social, that this investment will give to our city in return.

Of course, in the history of our nation, state and federal governments over the last 100 years have borrowed to deliver nation-building projects such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Where would these projects be today if they had been given to a visionless group of people such as the ACT Liberal opposition?

Madam Deputy Speaker, as I have noted, perhaps Mrs Dunne is the exception because she once recognised the benefits of delivering a major integrated transport system. In 2005 Mrs Dunne said—I note again that she has a long history of support for light rail—in a paper which was titled “The potential and limitations of sustainability policy: modest proposals from the garden city”:

… clearly, a light rail project would require a significant capital outlay. All governments these days—but especially, and ironically, Labor governments—are now reluctant to borrow in order to fund what any sane person would regard as necessary, long-term investment … Just as the average family can only finance home ownership through borrowing, so the average polity must finance at least some of its wealth-building infrastructure from borrowings.

Mr Wall: Yes, but homes appreciate in value. Light rail is going to cost money. It is going to be a black hole.

Ms BURCH: These are the words of one of your own, Mr Wall—of Mrs Dunne herself. Light rail down Northbourne Avenue will also attract commercial interest and interest from the private sector. They understand that this project will significantly improve property values along the transport corridor. Again, this was a benefit that was acknowledged by the Canberra Liberals, through Mrs Dunne in this paper in 2005. She outlined how this could be leveraged to minimise the cost to government. Mrs Dunne, on behalf of the Canberra Liberals, wrote:

One type of partnership which may avoid the need for direct borrowing is based on value capture. As a leasehold city, Canberra is particularly well placed to utilise such a model to help pay for expensive infrastructure through the

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