Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 August 2017) . . Page.. 2745 ..
In light of the fact that neither the government nor the Greens will support my suggested amendment it makes it very difficult for us to support what the government is proposing.
MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (10.27): I thank Mr Steel very much for bringing this motion forward today: another opportunity to talk about the future of our city. I note that Mr Coe again, as he did in the last parliament, can only think to start any discussion about an integrated transport network with light rail. I note and welcome Mr Coe’s recognition of the government’s mandate of 2016, and that mandate relates to the delivery of a city-wide light rail network.
I look forward to the opposition supporting this motion in full because we know that if the outcome of last year’s election had been different light rail would have been consigned to the dust bowl of transport development in the ACT. Light rail would never have been developed in the ACT. There would be no discussion about staging because it would be off the radar for a generation at least. We also know that if we were debating a Liberal budget at this point we would be debating the tearing up of a contract, the sacking of hundreds of staff and the wilful pouring down the drain of up to $250 million of ACT taxpayers’ money to buy nothing other than the sacking of hundreds of workers and an eight-lane concrete highway along Northbourne Avenue.
I am really pleased to be talking about an integrated transport network, which is the focus of Mr Steel’s motion. As we have seen very recently, not only is Canberra one of the most liveable cities in the world but it is growing rapidly. Our diverse and vibrant city is growing faster than any state or territory over the past five years with more than 40,000 new residents, an increase of 11 per cent, the highest in the country. In the next 20 years our population will grow to half a million. As a result we need to build a smart, integrated public transport system that is easy to use, sustainable, reliable and convenient.
The benefits of this transport system for our community are substantial. It will support social inclusion, drive economic development, maintain liveability and reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. As the minister for both transport and health and wellbeing I am very aware that a fully integrated transport network can help to support a more active and healthy city. We are focused on encouraging more people to walk, run or ride to work, and an integrated public transport network makes it easier for Canberrans to take more active travel options between work and home and opportunities for incidental exercise before and after journeys. Of course, linking mass transport systems with residential development, areas of employment, study, retail and entertainment also helps to build exciting, liveable communities, mixed-use precincts and a sense of place
Last year this government established Transport Canberra with a clear mandate to deliver the ACT government’s vision of a quality public transport system that is