Page 1711 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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Transport—light rail

Debate resumed.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Planning, Minister for Roads and Parking, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Minister for Children and Young People and Minister for Ageing) (3.20): I thank Ms Fitzharris for bringing this important motion forward today. Cities across Australia and around the world are coming to recognise the importance of well-planned and integrated transport infrastructure to meet the needs of growing cities. They know and have experienced the benefits of investment in integrated transport infrastructure to connect their cities, stimulate growth and development and transform how cities operate to meet their changing needs. The government also recognises the importance of this for the ACT and is actively planning and delivering transport infrastructure to meet the needs of our growing city now and into the future.

Canberra is growing and maturing as a city. With an expected population of 550,000 by 2050 the ACT will continue to experience growth and change. This will present significant opportunities for growing our city and its economy, but it also presents challenges, such as high levels of road congestion and greater demands on our public transport infrastructure.

In recent years the government has done a lot of work to ensure we have the right transport and planning strategies to guide the development of our city. Transport for Canberra and the ACT planning strategy work together to ensure that over time we build an integrated transport network.

We are also delivering planning outcomes that will make this vision a reality through projects such as capital metro, the light rail master plan and the city and Northbourne Avenue urban design framework, supported by other complementary policy measures in the areas of active travel, parking, freight and low emission vehicles, for example.

The government is building an integrated transport network by ensuring our continuing significant investment in roads infrastructure—$162 million in this year alone—together with long-term investments in light rail corridors requiring high capacity, high frequency rapid transit services and connecting key centres by well-integrated buses and better walking and cycling connections. Our current transport planning work is all contributing to building the integrated transport network capacity.

We know from the experience of other cities that improved public transport networks are a proven catalyst for urban transformation, providing significant economic opportunities to government and the private sector. Transformation along other transport corridors is expected to drive new opportunities for other parts of the city, including employment and investment opportunities.

Analysis by global firm Ernst & Young indicates that the government’s light rail investment will create over 3,500 jobs during construction, and many more jobs over the longer term.

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