Page 1443 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 May 2015
At the end of the day, the Chief Minister, Mr Barr, and Minister Corbell must have regard for the ACT taxpayer before signing contracts. It is their statutory duty as ministers to ensure that the ACT gets the best value for money from government contracts. Delaying the signing of the contract is the best and, indeed, the only way to ensure value for money for ACT taxpayers.
Of course, if ACT Labor and the Greens are returned to power after the next election, they will be able to proceed with the contract. The Canberra Liberals have made clear their unequivocal opposition to this project. We voted against spending in last year’s budget for the Capital Metro Agency and we have called and will continue to call on the ACT government to stop the project. We have done all we can to stop and delay this project, and we are willing to do all we can to continue to stop this government from signing contracts. We will do everything we can before the October 2016 election.
Overall, we do not want to end up like Victoria. We do not want to see taxpayers’ money wasted on a project that will not be built. In this respect, it is in the hands of the government to not sign contracts before the ACT election. Minister Corbell, the shoe is firmly on your foot to ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely. By waiting until the next election, light rail can either be supported or rejected. Perhaps Minister Corbell is concerned about the election result and it is for that reason he is so determined to put a poison pill in the contract in an attempt to make the contract harder to get out of.
Minister Corbell must be concerned about the election result, because, if he were not, he would hardly need to bother about the terminate-for-convenience clause. The only reason he would put so much emphasis into the clause would be if he thought that a Liberal victory was likely and the clause could be exercised. If so, it would be because voters had disendorsed Labor’s light rail plan.
We ask that this Assembly give a directive to the government to not sign contracts. We ask that this Assembly let the people of Canberra decide whether they want this project or not.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (5.23): I take this opportunity to provide some facts in this debate. Mr Coe calls for the government to delay signing a contract to build, design, operate or maintain light rail until after the 2016 election. He says that the government needs to seek the support of the community on this project and that the best way to do it is through the forthcoming election, next year. I would ask Mr Coe to cast his mind back, not so long ago, to the ACT election held in 2012. He may recall that the former Chief Minister, Ms Gallagher, and I announced the capital metro project as an election commitment during that election. In fact, Ms Gallagher’s media release dated 21 September 2012 states:
If re-elected in 2012, ACT Labor will establish the ACT’s first large-scale private sector partnership to plan, finance and develop the first stage of a light rail network for Canberra—the Capital Metro.