Page 2298 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 1 August 2017

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The changes this bill brings will support the operation of light rail vehicles on ACT roads in accordance with the Australian road rules. This will ensure that all road rules will apply to drivers of light rail vehicles. The bill standardises the definition of a motor vehicle to include a light rail vehicle to be consistent across ACT legislation. It also clarifies that the concept of “rail” or “railways” in other legislation is extended to include light rail and that a number of existing provisions, including offences that apply in relation to motor vehicles or rail vehicles or rail operations, will also apply to light rail vehicles. It is absolutely necessary to reform the ACT road transport legislation right now to ensure that our new light rail network operates as a seamless element in the overarching integrated public transport network that Transport Canberra is delivering for all of our city.

Our government is providing the community with a modern network that includes a number of transport modes that allow for connected travel around the city. It is, and will continue as it grows, to be a convenient, efficient, affordable and reliable alternative to driving.

This bill is part of the complex process that has taken our commitment to invest in light rail to a reality on the ground. Features of this bill include a requirement for light rail drivers to hold a valid Australian full car driver licence and a provision that should any injuries arise from a collision with a light rail vehicle it will be covered by the compulsory third-party insurance scheme.

Transport Canberra and City Services is moving ahead with light rail stage 2. Since our re-election we have committed $20 million to carry out detailed scoping and route planning on the city to Woden corridor and provided further provisions for procurement activities. Light rail to Woden will create a public transport spine for our city, connecting employment hubs, community services and commuters and travellers from north to south. The Woden to city corridor also gives the ACT government an opportunity to facilitate other infrastructure investments, including urban renewal initiatives in the south and a revitalisation of the Woden town centre.

Public transport is critical to connecting our suburbs to new compact urban centres. Light rail represents more than simply a form of transport. It is transformative for Canberra and will help to increase density and revitalise parts of Canberra where it is located. Light rail supports greater density in our urban centres and stimulates new housing types including medium density housing, student, affordable and social housing offerings.

Canberra’s population is projected to increase significantly over the next 20 years to over half a million people. To plan for Canberra’s growth, reduce congestion and enhance our livability, we need to improve our public transport system, which includes buses, light rail and active transport options such as cycling and walking, as well as other imminent transport innovations. We need to make it easier for residents and visitors to move around our city and make public transport a real alternative to the car.

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