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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 November 2015) . . Page.. 4091 ..

I commend the amendment to the motion which I have moved today. The government is working towards the best infrastructure outcomes for the territory and will succeed in improving the lives of all residents through forward planning.

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) (10.31): I welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter today, both as a Greens member of this place and also having regard to the various responsibilities I have for transport policy in my ministerial capacity. It is important that this Assembly focuses on public transport and on how we can improve it for the future.

Sustainable transport will be a key part of our city’s future. High quality, reliable and frequent public transport is essential to making sure our city develops in a way that maintains its livability, its economic prosperity and its social equity. Quality public transport, and transport corridors, are needed not just as a transport solution but as a planning tool, to help us evolve into a more compact and dense city, with all the advantages that come with that.

Think, for example, about the recent report from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development which showed the ACT economy will lose up to $419 million a year in avoidable social congestion costs by 2030 if we do not take action now. Or think of the fact that in the next 35 years it is expected there will be more than 220,000 extra Canberrans living and travelling in our city. By 2040, under a business as usual approach, there will be 124,000 extra cars on the road.

I think all of us know that this type of growth is not sustainable under a business as usual approach, and to try and accommodate this type of growth with a focus on private car use would be a folly. A plan that focuses on sustainable transport is the smart and long-term approach to these challenges. So, from my point of view, it is absolutely critical that the government gets its approach to public transport planning right. I take this opportunity to thank the Auditor-General and her office for their work on the Public transport: the frequent network audit report.

I am happy to talk about the issues in Mr Coe’s motion. Mostly, his motion reflects issues raised in the auditor’s report. As I said, these are important issues, and I will talk about them further in a moment. Mr Coe’s motion goes awry, I think, when it tries to draw a conclusion that the government should cancel its light rail project. Somehow, for the Canberra Liberals, having the Auditor-General critique the frequent network and make recommendations translates into the general need to cancel light rail. This is a non-sequitur, and of course the Auditor-General did not say anything about this.

This highlights one of the problems with the Liberal Party’s approach. There is no sophistication in their response to any of the genuine issues facing the territory or the government. Everything has to fit into their black and white campaign prism of “stop light rail”.

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