Page 916 - Week 03 - Thursday, 19 March 2015

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This is certainly the wrong way to achieve good outcomes for Canberra and to ensure a positive and healthy future for our city. But even in terms of political campaigning, the anti-light rail hyperbole really paints the Liberals into a corner. People actually like light rail. What will the Canberra Liberals say in a few years from now when the light rail is built, when it is operating, when thousands of people are using it? Will they continue to damn it? Will they quietly let it slide and find a new project to oppose?

I will use my remaining time to note some of the spurious arguments that have been spread in recent times. This is a continuing trend and it is important to continue to challenge these issues as they arise. One argument Mr Coe has been using repeatedly is that apparently 99 per cent of Canberrans will not use light rail in the morning peak. I find that a very strange thing to put forward as an argument. Gungahlin to Civic is the first stage of a potential Canberra-wide network. How does light rail ever expand across Canberra to a broader population if we never take the first step? The implication is that we must either put down an instant complete light rail network or never do it at all.

You could use the same argument in respect of each individual bus route or many other services. You could make the same argument about the Gungahlin Leisure Centre, because it is predominantly used by the people of Gungahlin. Or you could make the same assertion about, say, the Ashley Drive upgrade, because mainly Tuggeranong residents will use it. But that is not how as a city, as a community, we operate together.

We actually do these things because as a community we invest in various parts of the city for various needs that are required. It is an entirely parochial argument to say that if an initiative does not serve all of Canberra or the majority of Canberra then we should not be doing it. A vast array of Canberra services are actually for specific groups, for specific users or for specific geographic regions. Yet we go ahead and build those projects on a regular basis.

I also hear Mr Coe say that apparently Infrastructure Australia rejected the light rail project. It is probably time to correct that. It did not reject it. It did not agree to provide funding at this point in time—

Mr Coe interjecting—


MR RATTENBURY: which is what it does in respect of numerous projects that remain on its list for future consideration. Look at the infrastructure priorities list and you will see that the Canberra transit corridor is still listed on Infrastructure Australia’s early stages initiatives list. The description of this category is:

Initiatives in this category address a nationally significant issue or problem, but the identification or development of the right solution is at an early stage.

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