Page 3544 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 12 September 2017

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MR RATTENBURY: I am happy—as Mr Parton was not here at the time—to remind members that it was actually because of the Greens and the Liberal Party, who first passed these laws in a combined effort in the 2008-12 Assembly, that the ACT now has random drug testing.

Mr Hanson: You’ve changed, Shane.

MR RATTENBURY: I think Mr Hanson is the one who has changed. He used to be able to do sensible policy. Certainly the ACT government is actually very vigilant on this issue and we will continue to monitor the latest developments. We want to improve road safety for people in the territory and I think that there are a range of drugs which need to be examined for their impact on road safety, just as there are other matters where we need to be constantly vigilant in this space.

Transport—Canberra to Sydney rail service

MR PETTERSSON: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, can you please update the Assembly on the support for upgrading the Canberra-Sydney rail service.

MR BARR: I thank Mr Pettersson for the question. I can advise the Assembly that since I took that somewhat slow train ride to Sydney earlier this year, I have received a significant number of letters and expressions of support from Canberrans and from New South Wales residents along that rail corridor, bemoaning what is a 19th century rail service that currently exists between Canberra and Sydney.

I am pleased to advise the Assembly that there is significant support from Canberra region councils, including Queanbeyan-Palerang and the Yass Valley Council, for this service to be upgraded. A more efficient and timely rail linkage for Canberra and the surrounding region would create significant benefits for our community; it would increase tourism, increase job opportunities and make it even more attractive to live and invest in our region.

I recently discussed this issue with the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, and she agreed that both of our cities would stand to benefit from better transportation links. I am also very welcoming of recent comments by Premier Berejiklian supporting the prospect of improved eastern seaboard rail links. The ACT government is actively engaging with the New South Wales government to build the case for an improved rail link.

The possibility of a higher speed Sydney-Canberra rail link has long been discussed by the ACT, New South Wales and commonwealth governments. But, let’s be frank, there has been a lot of talk and very little action. Now is the time to act given that the commonwealth’s national rail program is slated to invest $10 billion over the next decade in major rail projects.

MR PETTERSSON: What are the next steps in upgrading the rail line?

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