Page 1447 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 May 2015
This is a vital project too for economic activity at a time when we need it most. The first stage of the project will deliver almost $1 billion in economic benefits across the ACT economy, including 3½ thousand jobs during the construction phase alone. These jobs will create extra opportunities for local businesses and significant economic benefit for the whole of Canberra.
In addition to the proven economic benefits light rail can deliver, there are significant health and social benefits that can be achieved from better connectivity, accessibility, less time spent in cars, less pollution and more social interaction. Modern transport infrastructure brings people together. It gets them out of their cars. It connects them with their destinations easily. It supports more active lifestyles. It helps reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and it encourages people to explore and interact with each other and within the city as a whole.
Given the benefits that this project brings to all of Canberra and the fact that this issue has already been taken to an election in an explicit policy document, the government can only reject Mr Coe’s motion. Those opposite may be in the business of laying the ground to break election commitments but we are not. As such, the government will progress the project on a business as usual basis.
We want a modern, vibrant, attractive city that is accessible and welcoming, that stays true to our planned legacy while making a contribution to the future prosperity of our city. Light rail is the key to unlock this future, and the government is committed to our election commitments and to the timely delivery of this city-changing project. The government will not be supporting this motion today.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Justice, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform) (5.38): Here we are again, at the end of a sitting day, in the final moments, discussing one of Mr Coe’s light rail motions. I notice that, of the many motions Mr Coe has proposed on light rail over the last year, almost all have been listed at number five or six on the notice paper. It makes me wonder why they are pushed out to the end of the day. Perhaps it is because the substance is actually very thin—they just all say, “Stop light rail.” Perhaps it is about getting the media headline and once the story is written it does not really matter what happens here in the chamber. Or maybe it is a reflection of the fact that in the party room that is the only spot he can get on the notice paper and that is what the rest of his colleagues think of these motions as well.
This motion calls on the government to cease making any light rail contracts until after the 2016 election. I will not support this motion because I do not agree with taking our city backwards, stalling on good and important initiatives and ignoring the future challenges of our city. As a member of this government and a representative of the Greens, I believe we need to get on with the job to improve the future for our city, to help tackle and solve transport, environmental and social problems. That is what light rail does.
Despite the insistence of the Canberra Liberals and some other opponents, this project stacks up. The facts are there. As a baseline, the full business case has been released