Page 1688 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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MR COE (Ginninderra) (12.03): I am delighted to be in this place debating light rail. It seems that whenever I move a motion it is another light rail motion and Mr Rattenbury laments the fact that so much of our time gets soaked up by this billion dollar project. But here we have another opportunity to discuss light rail, and I hope Mr Rattenbury will once again lament the fact that this Assembly is talking about the biggest infrastructure project ever embarked upon by an ACT government.

Whilst the motion may not be out of order, I think it is peculiar because it calls on a political party to make a call—not the opposition; it calls on a political party. I am a member of that party, but really it is up to the party president to respond to this sort of motion. It should be calling on the party president to, in effect, reverse the position, because this is party policy.

The Liberal Party have a policy that the government’s decision to go ahead with capital metro without the business case to support such an investment is bogus. Their decision to spend a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money when the benefits are so marginal is not only unwise but the ACT Liberal Party believes the project is indeed wasting taxpayers’ money which could be spent better elsewhere.

The opposition will continue to do everything we can to make sure this project does not go ahead. We, of course, will not be supporting this motion. We, of course, will not be changing our position. We will continue to represent the interests of the taxpayers of Canberra. Our position is quite simple. We do not believe it is in Canberra’s best interests to proceed with light rail. We do not think it is wise to spend $783 million on a tram which will carry less than one per cent of Canberra’s population in peak hour.

It is interesting that Ms Fitzharris’s motion today quotes Infrastructure Partnerships Australia. IPA are of course doing their job. They are advocating for infrastructure. They are a lobby group. They get paid to make comments just like the one that Ms Fitzharris raised. So it is really no surprise that a lobby group in favour of infrastructure should come out in support of infrastructure. It is not particularly objective. It seems to me that the independent observers of this debate have made their fair share of commentary and I will be referring to that later.

Going back to Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, comments were made by the CEO on 24 September that cancelling the contracts for the East West Link “would be a very expensive error for Victoria” and that “Victoria had a hard-won reputation as one of the best infrastructure jurisdictions in the world, a reputation that would be dented if the project were to be cancelled”. Is Ms Fitzharris or the minister or the Chief Minister or anybody opposite going to criticise the Labor government in Victoria for what they have done? $339 million was the cost of cancelling that contract by the Labor Party. Is anybody opposite, anyone at all, going to say that that was a problem? Cancelling that $10.7 billion contract has cost a lot of money, but the Labor government will say that it was what they were elected to do; they were elected to cancel that contract.

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