Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 13 May 2015) . . Page.. 1693 ..

So it is going to cost local Canberrans their jobs. It is not just some budget figure. It is not just some abstract budget figure that Mr Coe thinks he can get away with politically. It is people’s jobs. He seems to ignore that. Of course, he also ignores that it is local businesses. Yes, we have got some very large international global companies wanting to come in and invest in our city, but they are going to engage many local Canberra businesses. Small businesses, medium businesses, subcontractors, sole operator businesses, the bloke who drives the tip truck, the company that provides landscaping services, the company that does formwork, local Canberra businesses—he is happy to turf them out too.

The local Liberals believe that the decision by the Victorian government to pay a “mere” $340 million to get out of Melbourne’s East West Link project is a great precedent for them to do the same here in the ACT. They seem to think it is acceptable to spend millions of dollars—tens of millions, hundreds of millions, possibly—to buy nothing.

But there are, of course, some very big differences between the circumstances in Victoria and those here in the ACT. We all know that one of the big issues hanging over the heads of the consortia in Victoria was the risk that the Victorian parliament would simply legislate to make the contract void and allow the state government to escape without paying any compensation at all. That is a pretty good bargaining position if you have it.

But what Mr Coe also knows, or perhaps he has not told his colleagues in the party room, is that here in the ACT the Legislative Assembly has no such power. We have no power to void a contract. It is explicitly prohibited in the relevant provisions of the self-government act. So we are not going to be in that bargaining position. If, heaven forbid, the Liberal Party form government at the next election, they are not going to be able to say to the consortia, “We will just legislate to void the contract; you had better agree to our terms.” That is not possible. And the consortia know it.

So let us be really clear. This is going to cost Canberrans a lot of money, a lot of money to buy nothing. But it is going to cost Canberrans their jobs and it is going to cost local businesses opportunities to grow their businesses right here in Canberra.

There are some very sensible people who understand this and understand the importance of investment in infrastructure. The current executive director, the new executive director, of the Master Builders Association here in the ACT is very clear in his support for the project. He has said that light rail “was an essential part of becoming a city state” and would help us “get ahead of projected population”. Mr Coningham has also recognised the long-term productivity gains that infrastructure projects like capital metro will deliver.

But it is not just the ACT government who are concerned by Mr Coe’s reckless position, and it is not just local businesses and local Canberrans who have their jobs put at risk by that position; it is also their federal counterparts. The federal Liberal government recognise light rail as an important infrastructure project. They have demonstrated this through their decision to inject $60 million into this project as part of the commonwealth’s asset recycling initiative.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video