Page 1639 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 12 May 2015

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That is a mature and important debate to have, but it is not one the Canberra Liberals seem to be capable of having. It is all about government waste and the like when they frame it. Of course, if they got into government, it would be a very different discussion.

It is very simplistic to come in here and take the approach Mr Doszpot has sought to propagate today. I think there is a more important discussion we can have with the community, and it is about priorities. That is a fair enough debate to have. Yes, those on this side of the chamber have chosen to prioritise public transport because we believe this city needs to deal with its traffic issues as the city grows. This city is growing to a projected population of 500,000 people by 2030. That is within the ACT borders. Then we must add all the others in the region that come into Canberra and use our infrastructure. If we do not do something about that, we will face a whole series of other pressures. We will have to spend money on significant road upgrades. You cannot widen Northbourne Avenue any further without starting to have a serious impact of either taking the edges out or starting to cut into the median strip anyway.

Mr Doszpot: And 400 trees, of course.

MR RATTENBURY: What would Mr Doszpot’s solution be? Put a fourth lane in each direction on Northbourne Avenue. Where does he think the trees will go if he decides to put a fourth lane on Northbourne Avenue? You cannot have it both ways, Mr Doszpot; you have to have a solution one way or the other to the growing population of this city. That is what this government is doing—the Labor Party and the Greens are taking a forward-thinking perspective that says as this city’s population grows we need to deal with that.

Mr Doszpot put forward this matter of fees and charges, and I thought he was literally going to talk about fees and charges, but he wanted to have a whole discussion about the cost of living. I have cited this figure in this place before, but if we can build a coherent, effective public transport system where people in this city perhaps only need one car instead of two cars per household, NRMA studies show that will be a cost of living saving of $10,000 to $11,000 a year. The cost of a second car for the average household with repayments on the car loan, rego, petrol, insurance and all those sorts of things is assessed by the NRMA as being $10,000 or $11,000.

If we can take away the need to have that second car by providing a good public transport system, people will still have a car they will need to use for some of their journeys, but some of their journeys will be covered by public transport and that is a real cost of living saving. That is not about whether some fee or charge went up by four per cent or 4.5 per cent, as Mr Doszpot was suggesting; it is a very real cost of living saving that can be achieved.

I reject the simplistic analysis put forward today. We need to make sure the right concessions are in place, for example, so that those on lower incomes are supported by the rest of us as a community. I strongly believe in that, and that is why a range of concessions are in place for things like energy, water and sewerage bills. I support those and will continue to support those. Even as we go through the concessions, it is important to stop and look at those concessions and make sure they are targeting the people who really need them.

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