Page 1740 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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This return was recently confirmed by an independent review undertaken by Professor Derek Scrafton from South Australia, an economist and a former head of the South Australian transport department. He considered that the economic return was as good as it gets.

I have said before, and I will say it again, that the introduction of light rail to the city’s transport infrastructure will fundamentally change the way our city grows and Canberrans live. It is a city-shaping project. It recognises that we have to plan and invest in infrastructure for an enormous level of growth over the next 35 years—600,000 residents by the middle of this century.

Light rail is an essential project that our city needs. It is the right thing to do for our community. It is the right thing to do for public transport users, it is the right thing to do for commuters and it is the right thing to do for our future. Capital metro stage 1 is the start of a light rail network that will play a vital role in ensuring Canberra’s future as a vibrant, sustainable and livable city.

The government’s decision to look closely at a capital contribution to the project is an important consideration in securing the best possible outcome for our city and ensuring the $1 billion worth of benefits from capital metro are realised for our community. I commend the amendment to the Assembly.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Justice, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform) (5.06): I will speak briefly to this motion today. The motion asks the government to declare whether it is making a capital contribution to the project via the PPP arrangements, and it also asks for details of availability payments.

This has been discussed in this place several times before, and the answer to it has been explained several times before, particularly with regard to the availability payments. It would be imprudent to talk about availability payments before negotiations are finalised with the successful bidder for the project. It is simply not the way that sophisticated commercial arrangements between government and private entities are undertaken—unless, of course, we want to jeopardise the negotiations and therefore possibly fail to secure the best possible price for the ACT government.

The government have gone with an approach that is a competitive process. We want the consortia to be competitive, to be innovative and we invite them to come to government with a range of possible options. So, rather than simply spelling out what the government wants, there is a deliberate approach here to allow for the brilliance of competitive processes, to allow for the government to get the best possible outcome on behalf of the Canberra community.

I would usually never believe that anyone would want the outcome for Canberrans where we essentially lead with our chin and remove that competitive component. That is obviously what the government is seeking here. Perhaps I should be more open minded about that, because I know Mr Coe has indicated he will do

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