Page 1718 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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He also, perhaps wilfully, ignores some of the most independent advice that we see around the country and around the world—commuters on light rail. We see that where light rail is built—as Mr Rattenbury noted, along the Gold Coast, with nearly five million travellers on the Gold Coast light rail in just a short space of time. In some ways they are some of the most independent advisers on a light rail project because they are the commuters that will catch light rail.

I want to elaborate a bit on this later. It is concerning that the Canberra Liberals cannot outline an alternative policy for our future transport system but can say they will do everything they can to stop it. I think it is reasonable to ask what the limits of this position are and whether they will tell the Canberra community what those limits are. It is not clear at all, and I am not sure the community wants to know that there is a potential government in the wings that will do whatever it takes. That really is unclear.

Mr Rattenbury asked a very good question around what Northbourne Avenue and the rest of the city will look like in the future. What will the Canberra Liberals be saying when there are thousands more cars coming along the first stage of the light rail route—coming into the city and competing for parking with commuters from other parts of the city?

In the end, Mr Coe and the Canberra Liberals are promising to spend up to hundreds of millions of dollars, potentially, to tear up a contract for a project that will deliver $1 billion in economic benefits to the ACT—a project that will deliver 3,500 jobs in the construction phase; a project that will transform our city; a project that will help negate the traffic and congestion issues that will accompany our growth to a city of more 600,000. What does Mr Coe plan on getting in return for preventing Canberrans from receiving all of the benefits that this major transformative infrastructure project will deliver them? Absolutely nothing—nothing but a bill for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars.

As for the claims that congestion in Canberra is not so bad as to warrant light rail, what is the alternative? Again we ask: what is the alternative? Do we just sit around and wait until congestion gets too bad and then decide to invest in public transport options? I think not.

The Canberra Liberals also seem to completely miss the point that the Liberal Treasurer, Joe Hockey, has signed a deal with our Chief Minister, a deal that will see the territory receive $60 million in incentives to put into this project.

Again I thank the members on this side of the chamber for their support of the motion. I look forward to continuing to debate the merits of this project for our city. I end on this question: if the Canberra Liberals say they will do whatever it takes and everything they possibly can to stop this project, what does that actually mean? We saw in the last election their willingness to diminish the future of our city to a three-word slogan. It did not work then. I see that they may have one in their minds for next year—another three-word slogan. It did not work last time and I do not think it is going to work next time. They need to stump up to the Canberra community and tell the Canberra community what their alternative is.

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