Page 1691 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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money and most of the estimates from people in the know say it will be about a billion dollars. For a small place like the ACT, which already has a debt problem, it’s going to be a huge burden to add to it.

Yet the government has the gall to accuse us of taking sovereign risk. Mr Cameron Gordon, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Canberra, also chimed in:

I’m concerned what might happen is we build this thing, it will be very expensive to operate and we might end up cutting bus services to keep it going.

Finally I remind members opposite that Dr Leo Dobes, Adjunct Associate Professor at the ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy, has said, “There’s a disturbing lack of facts on the table,” when it comes to light rail.

It is highly comical that the Labor Party walks into the chamber and waves around a quote from Infrastructure Partnerships Australia when there are numerous other quotes that also give an objective view on exactly what this proposal is. If the government were to simply listen to lobby groups and not take any independent advice from now on, we would be in a very worrying position in the future.

What Ms Fitzharris’s motion actually calls on us to do today is ignore the advice of independent analysts. It calls on the Canberra Liberals to put our heads in the sand, just like the government, and sign up to a partisan deal done between Labor and the Greens to form a government in November 2012. By moving this motion today Ms Fitzharris and the government are explicitly rejecting the expert advice when it comes to light rail.

My colleagues and I will continue to advocate in this place that the ACT government should not sign contracts before the next election. This is the best way to ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely and also the best way to ensure that the voters of Canberra, the taxpayers of Canberra who will paying for the light rail project, actually have a say on this proposal.

The policy that was sent to Treasury for costing before the 2012 election was a $30 million commitment which the government stuffed up. Treasury said that actually it was a $34 million commitment because they had not factored in staff costs. It was a $34 million commitment. You go down the Treasury costings list and you do not see $783 million for a light rail system. You do not see $614 million for a light rail system. All you see is $34 million for studies and of that $34 million they wanted to get $15 million from the commonwealth under a Labor government. And the Labor government said no.

This government does not have a mandate for light rail. It simply does not. I think the more they talk about having a mandate for light rail, the more they risk angering Canberrans who know that they have been deceived by government when it comes to this project. Canberrans know that they did not vote on light rail at the last election. And the more this government goes around telling them that they did, the more it is likely to anger Canberrans, the more it is likely to anger the taxpayers who are going to be footing the bill for this project. As I said when speaking to my motion last week, the ACT government has no mandate to go ahead with light rail.

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