Page 1449 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 May 2015

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Good light rail systems have an ‘iconic’ value that is attractive to tourists as well as commuters and residents. Whereas bus routes can be difficult for domestic and international visitors to negotiate, light rail networks are often perceived to be simpler and more reliable, largely owing to the fact that routes are permanent and highly visible. Transport is a key element in the visitor experience and an efficient public transport system can significantly enhance a city’s reputation among travellers. In addition, a strong light rail brand can be incorporated into tourism marketing campaigns and information material. Melbourne’s world-class tram system is integral to its image as a sophisticated, ‘liveable’ destination; it is one of the city’s tourism signatures.

The Tourism and Transport Forum of Australia went on to say:

More generally, TTF would urge all levels of government to look at light rail as a potential policy and infrastructure solution to the problems of congestion and urban mobility. Integrated public transport will be essential if Australian cities are to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges of the years to come, and light rail has an important part to play in delivering urban productivity, liveability and sustainability.

There we have it. The Tourism and Transport Forum of Australia outlines not only the tourism benefits of light rail—they spoke very eloquently about that—but also the broader benefits they can see and which I think are consistent with the way the government is approaching the development of the light rail project here in Canberra.

I find the claim made by Mr Coe that an election needs to occur before work continues on light rail rather surprising. Firstly, this was played out prominently before the 2012 election and, secondly, the government needs to get on with governing and improving the city. Why was there no claim to stall on contracts for the Majura parkway until an election was held? That was a very large project also costing hundreds of millions of dollars, yet, as I have alluded to in this place before, there was certainly no such critical analysis at that time.

As I have said in the Assembly before, Mr Coe and the Canberra Liberals’ approach to light rail is clear—it is partisan and political and has no regard to the long-term future of Canberra. As Mr Coe says, the Canberra Liberals do not support light rail and will take every opportunity to try and stop this project. This motion is another fairly thin attempt at that.

I will not be entertaining this motion from Mr Coe. Instead, I will again highlight the positive future that Canberra is headed for, supported by its light rail project. I am optimistic that the experience of the Gold Coast, which recently opened its light rail line, will be reproduced here in Canberra. The initial information I have seen from the Gold Coast is that from 1 August to 31 August 2014 public transport usage on the Gold Coast rose by 21 per cent against the same period the previous year. That is an excellent result founded on the introduction of light rail. Within two months of opening, the Gold Coast light rail had already hit its one millionth paid passenger milestone and more than 3.2 million trips after 172 days of operation to January 2015. This demonstrates the effectiveness of this new public transport solution and showcases the benefits of implementing a reliable and user-friendly system that caters for the huge variety of lifestyles existing on the Gold Coast.

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