Page 2561 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 11 August 2015

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Ms Fitzharris points to the Gungahlin Community Council survey. It is interesting when you go through the comments about light rail, of which there were 438. “Waste of money.” “Better spent on hospital in Gungahlin.” “I think light rail is a good idea.” “It needs to be state of the art.” “Should be looping through Nicholls, Casey and Moncrieff.” “It will be fantastic.” “Seems like a waste of money.” “Any option for bikes?” “Although many people think light rail is too expensive, it is a long-term investment.” “Adequate park and ride or massive improvements to bus networks would be needed.” “As long as it doesn’t turn into a target for vandals, it would be a good idea.” “Outer suburbs and time taken to light rail station at marketplace. Access to Braddon.” “The money spent on light rail will be wasted. It won’t take me where I need to go for work.” “Very, very strongly prefer dedicated buses from Gungahlin to the city.” “Love it.” “If light rail extended to airport and Barton it would be much more useful.” “It would be good asset. The cost is excessive. However, Gold Coast did it along the Pacific Highway and it is a great success.” “I think it is a great plan but use will not be maximised due to where the service will terminate.” “The cost is so far over the current benefits.” “Can’t wait till it’s here.” “Not sure if it’s good value.” “Excited.” “I think a bus lane from Gungahlin to the city, especially along Northbourne and potentially using electric buses on the route, would be a better choice than light rail.” “Too much money being spent on something that could be changed into bus lanes.” “We don’t need it. Waste of money, and it will ruin the beautiful tree line in Northbourne Avenue.” “It won’t be viable. It won’t make money.” “Build a hospital in Gungahlin with an emergency department instead.” “Would be perfect if it went to the airport.” “Can’t wait.” “It’s going to cost $800 million? Why not make a city express bus?”

They are just the last comments—every single one, both for and against –and they are at best fifty-fifty. There are going to be mixed views on this project, but I firmly believe it does not stack up when you look at what else you could do with a billion dollars in Canberra, what else you could do in health, in education, in transport or in the many other areas for which we as a jurisdiction have responsibility.

I do not doubt there are some people who truly believe light rail in Canberra would work. But I believe the evidence simply does not back it up. If you look at the government’s own figures, if you look at their own BCR, if you look at their own patronage projections, if you look at their own revenue projections, where is the overwhelming case? If 3,900 users in peak hour justify this case, why did they not do it 10 or 15 years ago? If it is just 3,900, they probably could have got that years ago. The fact is, the only reason it is happening now, the only reason Minister Corbell has changed his tune, is because of a deal done with Mr Rattenbury.

In conclusion, I reiterate what I said at the start—that is, we on this side have respect for the people at the Capital Metro Agency who are undertaking the government’s work in this space. They are doing the best they can. However, the political decisions made before the agency was even established have curtailed their ability to be as professional as we would like to see them, such as determining the best mode and the best staging of such an operation.

Finally, it is worth going back to the 2008 Canberra Liberals election policy where we said we would spend $4 million on an engineering study of light rail routes and

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