Page 2704 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 August 2015

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hurry to begin light rail, they are in such a hurry to sign the contract, that they do not have an adequate policy to deal with the displacement of public housing tenants up and down Northbourne Avenue, many of whom would have been there for decades. Does anybody here actually think that this government would be relocating these tenants if it was not for light rail? This newfound determination to find better dwellings for these people is not actually motivated by social policy; it is motivated by light rail policy. It is a symbol of this government’s motto of “light rail at all costs”.

As I have said many times, the government do not need to develop Northbourne Avenue. If they want to see higher density on Northbourne Avenue, they simply have to allow the private sector to get involved and do what they do best—maximise the return on investment. As we have seen time and time again up and down Northbourne Avenue, on privately held land the densities are being developed well. Whether it is Space, Space 2, the Avenue, Axis, IQ apartments or the many other buildings up and down Northbourne Avenue, they are already being developed at a high density. You can have high density on Northbourne Avenue without light rail, as we have seen time and time again.

The government also need to sell these properties because they know that light rail is simply not affordable. The government know they cannot afford to commit to a billion dollar project at a time when the territory is running the largest ever deficit. We also know that when this project was put forward to Infrastructure Australia on its merit, the Gillard Labor government said no. The Gillard Labor government said that this project does not stack up from a transport point of view. It is a shame that the government is choosing to spend the asset recycling initiative windfall amount on light rail rather than more productive infrastructure elsewhere in the territory.

One of the problems with removing housing along Northbourne Avenue and relocating the tenants elsewhere is the considerable disadvantage some people may find themselves in. The transport for Canberra 2012-31 plan says:

For some areas on the fringes of suburbs (e.g. … Chisholm) the circuitous street layout and hilly topography can make it difficult to provide public transport within a reasonable walking distance of some households, and make the car an easier travel option. Housing near transport corridors such as Northbourne Avenue have access to high frequency public transport. In these areas, transport disadvantage is reduced as people have easy access to services without needing a car …

By deduction, moving people from Northbourne Avenue will increase transport disadvantage. How many of the proposed public housing dwellings are on the light rail route? How many of the dwellings which the government has planned are actually on the light rail route? Absolutely none. Absolutely none of what this government has planned are on the light rail route. You are taking people away from probably the best transport corridor in Canberra and putting them somewhere else. Somehow we are meant to believe that this is some sort of humanitarian policy of the government. We all know that it is simply the “light rail at any cost” philosophy.

Most obviously, moving people to Chisholm, Monash, Moncrieff and Coombs will remove people from the red and blue rapid routes. Nicholls and Amaroo are both

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