Page 2250 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 1 August 2017

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In conclusion, the Canberra Liberals will be supporting this legislation, but there are a number of questions that will need to be answered in order to actually have an operating light rail system in the territory.

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (12.21): The results from the 2016 census are in: Canberra is officially growing faster than any other state or territory in Australia. For those of us living here, this comes as little surprise. We have seen our city flourish over recent years, with our suburbs growing and town centres filling with new businesses. And we are not slowing down. Over the next four years we can expect to pass 421,000 Canberra residents by 2020. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure our infrastructure keeps pace with these changes so that Canberra continues to live up to its name as an innovative and livable city.

We know that light rail is part of doing just that. The Road Transport Reform (Light Rail) Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 is the next step in bringing the light rail into full and safe operation. With construction of stage 1 of light rail well underway, new apartments and precincts are popping up along Northbourne Avenue. When finished, Dickson station and Civic terminus will be improved urban hubs, attracting more shops, cafes and activity to the local area. Light rail will provide the infrastructure that these renewed urban hubs require. Residents living near the light rail corridors will have quick and reliable public transport at their doorstep. For those not living on the light rail line, stage 1 of the light rail alone will free up more than a million bus kilometres each year. This means that additional services can be directed to places like my electorate of Ginninderra, covering most of Belconnen, improving the connections across our city.

Stage 2 will extend these benefits. The future of public transport and urban renewal in Canberra is exciting, and we are already seeing the benefit of light rail in our growing economy. The project is bringing more investment opportunities into our city, and Canberra Metro is consistently meeting or exceeding its local employment targets. The Road Transport Reform (Light Rail) Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 signposts the fact that light rail is close to becoming a reality.

Since light rail will operate on our existing roads, this bill provides the mechanisms for it to do so in a safe and accountable manner. In order to become accredited as a light rail driver, a person will need to hold a full Australian drivers licence, demonstrate knowledge of our road rules and meet the requirements issued by the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator. The bill establishes that light rail operators will be subject to the same blood alcohol limits as other public passenger drivers. These licensing requirements reflect the safety standards that passengers and road users expect of vehicles on our roads.

The bill also amends certain definitions so that traffic infringement notices, such as for speeding, can be issued to light rail drivers. Light rail vehicles will also be included under certain offences—for example, joy-riding. This protects the public from unauthorised drivers and prevents damage to bystanders and, importantly, the light rail vehicles. Each light rail vehicle will be clearly identified with large numbers located internally and externally which will serve the same purpose as numberplates

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