Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 11 August 2015) . . Page.. 2566 ..
fact is that the benefits of better public transport usage do not just accrue to public transport users; they accrue to motorists as well because they spend less time in traffic and have a speedier journey.
These are the benefits. These are the reasons. These are the issues that any responsible government must respond to when it considers an infrastructure project of this nature. It is easy to say that it is expensive; it is easy to say that it is the wrong choice; it is easy to frighten people about the cost. But it is hard to advance an alternative, and those opposite have chosen the easy path because they have no alternative.
This government has a plan, this government has a vision and this government has a clear election commitment it intends to implement. That is exactly what we are doing through this budget today.
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (12.25): Madam Speaker, I will agree with the minister on one significant point: they are finding it hard to sell this. I think we would all agree in the community, observing this in the Assembly, that they are having a hard time getting their message out, they are having a hard time convincing the people of Canberra that this is a good idea. I think we would all agree with that.
As I pointed out in my speech—and Mr Coe in his and you in yours, Madam Speaker—it is evident that the government are struggling to get their message out there. There are a couple of significant reasons for that. One is that, based on the evidence—be it jobs, be it economic results, be it transport solutions—it is just not stacking up. They are not able to make the case. The other significant problem this government has is that the people of Canberra want to have their say. A lot of water has passed under the bridge. I would not say that we have all of the information available, and there is more that we would like to see, but the people of Canberra have a better understanding now of what light rail is.
The government still do not know exactly what phase 1 will be—whether it is going to go all the way up to Russell or not—but there is more information on the table now. There have been business cases released; there have been reviews of those business cases. There have been more experts engaged in the debate. Some of the costs have been explained. The people of Canberra are thinking, “Okay, I am in a better position now to form a view.” They are being denied the ability to do so by this government.
The people of Canberra want to say, “Okay; we have got these facts on the table. We can have a debate about light rail, about its merits, its concerns, the costs and the benefits.” This is going to be, as the minister says, something that is permanent. This is something that the minister says is going to cost a significant amount of money.
The minister says this is a vision for the future of Canberra, the first of many phases. If this is such a turning point, if this is such a substantive change for Canberra, surely the people deserve their say. That is how democracy works, isn’t it? One side put their case, put their argument; the other put their case, put their argument. The facts are presented and the people get to have their say. A big part of the problem is that this government is deliberately trying to prevent the people of Canberra from having their say. People do not like that, and rightly so.