Page 608 - Week 02 - Thursday, 19 February 2015
MS PORTER: Minister, what project has the commonwealth agreed that funds unlocked from the asset recycling be invested in?
MR BARR: An important aspect of the asset recycling scheme is that it requires the agreement of the state or territory and the commonwealth on the schedule of assets as well as the productivity enhancing infrastructure project to be progressed. So let us be clear. Capital metro has been agreed by the commonwealth and the territory as the productivity enhancing infrastructure project that will attract commonwealth investment in the territory. Capital metro is a vital project for our city’s economic future. It will deliver a billion dollars in benefits for our city and create 3½ thousand jobs in the construction phase alone.
Let me say today: thank you to Joe Hockey. It is great to have the commonwealth on board with this project. It is a world-class piece of public transport infrastructure. It will reduce congestion along Canberra’s busiest corridor and it will assist in our city’s sustainable urban development. It will also provide business and investment certainty along the Northbourne corridor, stimulating economic activity as the land surrounding light rail increases in value, is used more efficiently and stimulates the much-needed transformation of the entrance to the national capital.
Today is an important day in our city’s history and it is very significant that we have been able to reach across the political divide with the federal government to do something positive for Canberra—jobs, better transport and better housing for our city. It is a good day for Canberra.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Coe.
MR COE: Chief Minister, why did you, as per Mr Hockey’s media release—which said that the selection of assets to be sold and the new infrastructure to be built with the proceeds of asset sales are solely matters for state and territory governments—only give the commonwealth the option of light rail?
MR BARR: It is a clear requirement that for infrastructure investment to be approved by the commonwealth under this national partnership agreement it needs to be economic infrastructure. Social infrastructure would not be considered. Hence, hospitals, courts, schools, sports stadiums and convention centres were not within scope. Infrastructure had to be new or meet a requirement of additionality. It could not be in the nature of business as usual. Hence, routine road upgrades would not have been within scope either.
The commonwealth wanted a quick or accelerated injection of capital to promote productive economic activity. In the context of the five-year program, construction needed to be commenced before June 2019 and applications were only open until 30 June 2016. A project that had not had some level of conceptual planning undertaken would be difficult to advance, given the long lead times in infrastructure projects.
Addressing all of these criteria was a balance and a process of negotiation with the commonwealth that indicated the most likely infrastructure project in the territory was indeed capital metro. I am pleased, delighted, that we have been able to work with the