Page 629 - Week 02 - Thursday, 19 February 2015

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Light rail is part of this Labor administration’s vision for a more sustainable Canberra, and capital metro stage 1, from the city to Gungahlin, will play a significant role in supporting changed settlement patterns and transit-oriented development. The city centre and Northbourne corridor are in need of revitalisation to attract increased economic activity, and this will help support the long-term viability and vibrancy of all of our town centres.

Capital metro is pivotal to the much-needed rejuvenation of the gateway to our city, Northbourne Avenue. This avenue really does have potential to be one of the country’s premier addresses. It already hosts over 40 per cent of the city’s larger hotels, many businesses and other institutions and has fantastic surrounding precincts, but it is still overwhelmingly characterised by relatively low densities and relatively slow rates of development. It can be much more of a human-focused urban boulevard.

There is room for at least another 45,000 residents along the light rail corridor and room for another 10,000 residents in the city centre itself. This highlights an existing opportunity for densification and urban renewal, helping to protect our green spaces and bush capital character. We intend to use light rail to unlock the potential of the city centre, and this important avenue, catalysing urban renewal and creating livable and accessible communities, is part of that agenda.

We know, Mr Assistant Speaker, that light rail has the goods to support urban renewal and corridor revitalisation. We know that light rail can provide business and investment certainty along the corridor, stimulating significant economic activity as land surrounding the light rail line increases in value and is used more efficiently and at a higher level of economic productivity. It is exactly why the federal government today has agreed that capital metro light rail is productive infrastructure that brings forward investment beyond the business-as-usual environment.

Urban renewal and transformation along the transport corridor can create new opportunities for Canberra as a whole, such as employment opportunities and investment. It will provide a range of wider economic benefits. Improvements in the network will expand economic productivity and growth, and this means jobs and increasing the diversity and sustainability of the local economy.

We know that, during construction, capital metro stage 1 will support over 3,500 jobs at a time when our city needs those jobs most. The Capital Metro Agency has developed a local industry participation policy to make sure that locals and local businesses can benefit from stage 1. Local firms have already benefited through the planning and early investigation phases of the projects. The corridor development and increased economic activity stimulated by the light rail infrastructure, along with flow-on jobs from industry and consumption effects, are anticipated to create an additional 50,000 jobs long term in our city.

There are many other benefits from this project, aside from economic. Significant health and social benefits accrue: less time in cars, less pollution and more social interaction. This type of infrastructure brings people together, connects them with their destinations and supports a more active lifestyle, reduces emissions and encourages Canberrans to get out and engage more day to day in the urban form of their city.

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