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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 12 February 2015) . . Page.. 316 ..

MR CORBELL: Thank you, Madam Assistant Speaker. The bill is an important part of facilitating this important piece of future infrastructure for our city. We need to reshape the way our city grows and develops. We need to provide a real, meaningful and powerful alternative to people using their private motor vehicle. We need to make sure that those people who will continue to have to use the private motor vehicle have less congestion than they will otherwise experience, which we know is the case under a business-as-usual environment. We have heard that from Ms Fitzharris. She knows, on behalf of her constituents in Gungahlin, what business as usual means for road congestion and travel time. We must reshape our city. This bill and the project it will enable timely consideration and assessment of are critical for seeing that realised. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (5.06): This bill facilitates the delivery of a key plank of the ACT Greens-Labor parliamentary agreement—that is, the construction of a light rail network. Both the Greens and the ALP took a proposal for light rail to the election and we are now at the pointy end where we need to ensure that all the planning levers are in place to ensure that it can roll out smoothly.

When the planning and development project facilitation legislation proposal was floated last year as a framework to establish planning clearances, it was quite controversial. All members of this place saw the very clear community feedback, and the proposal was withdrawn. I think the government learned some valuable lessons through that process, though, and it now has a much better understanding of what the community does and does not expect in terms of community involvement in our planning processes in relation to major priority projects that the government is keen to progress in a timely manner.

When that bill was discussed in this place, including through committee inquiry, many groups clearly said they would prefer each individual project to have its own project-specific legislation. I was given that feedback very clearly. I spoke to a number of the community organisations and they said, “No, don’t do it this way. Don’t create a general framework. If you want to take on a specific project, do it with a specific piece of legislation.” That is what this bill seeks to do.

Today we have a bill before us that is specifically for the light rail project. This bill does not create an overall precinct and it does not simply override entity advice such as from the Heritage Council or from the Conservator for Flora and Fauna. What it does do, though, is create specific definitions and criteria that should be clear enough for projects to be progressed without the community feeling excluded.

This bill is specifically designed to help enable construction and completion of light rail without considerable delays and, in particular, to help enable the government to meet the target date of 2016 for the beginning of construction. The framework of this bill still allows for each infrastructure proposal to have its own DA and run through normal public consultation processes. I think many people in Canberra are still unaware that the light rail project is underway, and it is now time for government to knuckle down and put all the right policies and regulations in place to be able to roll it out smoothly in the next few years.

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