Page 3925 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Why not in the first instance change the light rail schedule for the stop being constructed at EPIC on non-event days and allow for some weekday stops at Mitchell? This would maintain the on-time running of the advertised 24-minute travel time. Has this stop been omitted from stage 1 for a reason? Would it perhaps, as I said, impact on that 24-minute travel time? Is the fear that residents of Gungahlin will discover that actually the rapid bus route will get them to where they are going faster than a tram service will? These are the questions that the ACT Labor government have failed to address. However, history will soon judge if the approach that they have taken is the correct one. For businesses in Mitchell, the verdict is clear: they will be adversely impacted unless the government reconsiders and installs a stop in Mitchell.

The question of compensation, which is raised in my motion, is a vexed one. Let me make it clear: this motion does not specifically call for cash compensation. What it does say is that compensation of some kind, whether it be concession based or in another form, should be explored. There has been certainly a long track record and there are well-documented experiences both from the Gold Coast construction of light rail and likewise the ongoing construction of the Sydney light rail project, with adverse impacts on locally operated businesses, and it is only fair that that thought be in the mind of government as this project continues, should there be a material detrimental effect on existing businesses.

The commercial rates that are paid by business owners in Mitchell are substantial. We are talking upwards of $30,000 per annum in some cases. This is a significant revenue source for this government; yet once again Canberrans, and businesses particularly in this instance, are asking what exactly it is that they are getting in return. Business owners in Mitchell would simply be pleased if greater attention was paid to the amenity of the area. Simple expectations such as adequate street lighting, footpaths and parking and even street sweeping are not currently up to scratch. The government has failed to ensure that this basic amenity is available in not only the Mitchell business precinct but also others across the city, such as Phillip and Hume.

We have seen this sentiment expressed before. In 2016 the Canberra Liberals highlighted the issues faced by businesses in the Phillip business precinct as a result of an ill-conceived decision by the government and those opposite to implement paid parking in the precinct. The flow-on effect of this decision galvanised traders, as we have seen in Mitchell and again in Hume. The loss of trade and the short and long-term impacts on business are the last consideration of the current government. And simple solutions for that are at hand.

Mitchell, as we have seen with Phillip, is suffering from basic neglect. There is a great deal of neglect in the amenity of the area—simple things that business owners and operators would expect to be managed well in return for the substantial payments they make in rates and charges. Street sweeping, street lighting, adequate footpaths and some simple green space being maintained are all fairly basic expectations but are not being met by the current government. Commercial precincts need to be a place where people want to set up businesses, where they can attract customers and where they

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video