Page 2589 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 10 August 2016

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MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Urban Renewal) (10.54): I am very pleased to support Ms Fitzharris’s amendment this morning, because Canberra can and should have great hospitals, schools, local services and public transport. Under this government, it will, because we will invest in health, we will invest in education and we will invest in transport. It is possible to do all of that and that is what good governments should be doing. Cancelling light rail is not a blank cheque. It is a black hole, Madam Speaker.

The light rail contract, of course, allows us to spread the cost across decades and have that cost be shared by generations of Canberrans who will utilise better public transport services. Ripping up a contract means that those costs fall immediately in the forward estimates period. That means we have less to spend in the next few years on schools and hospitals. Let us be clear: ripping up a contract is not a small or easy thing to do.

There is, of course, the immediate cost, which we know is hundreds of millions of dollars. There is also the longer-term cost of the significant reputational damage and higher costs for every piece of infrastructure that any future ACT government would build, because once you have ripped up one contract, everyone will price that sovereign risk into their bids for any future infrastructure work in this city. It will bid up the price of every single piece of infrastructure into the future because, once it is done once, the market will price it in. The market will expect, if there is any political contest over an infrastructure project, that they should price in the fact that it could be ripped up. That is the path that we are going down through the approach of those opposite.

We entered into a contract made in good faith, based on negotiations in good faith, that met our 2012 election commitment, a commitment that we are delivering. So the first fallacy in the motion put forward by the Leader of the Opposition is that it is an either/or decision—you either have transport investment or health investment. You can have both and we deliver both. We are going to deliver light rail and we are going to deliver new health infrastructure. We have met our 2012 election commitment to start light rail construction. We have met our 2012 election commitments to invest in new health infrastructure. Light rail and world-class health care; you can have transport investment and health investment. This government and only the Labor Party will deliver both, Madam Speaker.

In July we were part of the sod turning to mark the start of construction of light rail. A fortnight later we officially opened a new school in Coombs. So you can have transport infrastructure investment and investment in new schools and education. We have just opened a new CIT facility in Tuggeranong. Again, you can invest in transport, you can invest in education and you can invest in health.

In May we announced the green bin rollout to Canberra homes. We have reached financial close on light rail. Again, you can deliver excellent municipal services and you can deliver transport services. You can do more than one thing at once and a good government should be focused on health, on education, on transport and on municipal services.

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