Page 3933 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 20 September 2017

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So we put in a submission saying, as you can imagine, that Downer is an important place full of people who want public transport and, “Please, we want a stop too.” It was obviously longer than that, but that was the basic premise. I am really surprised. The traders of Mitchell must have known it was happening; they simply could not have not known it was happening. Possibly part of the message from this is that there is always a possibility that the government will do what they say they are going to do; you cannot just assume they will not. That appears to be effectively what Mr Wall is saying—that the traders assumed it was not going to happen so they did not bother engaging.

I have been involved one way or the other with community action for a very long time. It is not always worthwhile, but if you want changes you have to at least be part of the conversation, and that is the biggest message from this particular motion. The government called for feedback, and it certainly got a lot of it. I am sure it got a lot of it in different directions. But if the Mitchell traders chose not to say that they wanted anything then it is fairly easy to understand why the government figured, “Well, if they do not want a stop and they’re the ones who are there, why would we do a stop?” You have to have considerable sympathy for the decisions that were made.

Looking a bit more broadly, we have to be fairly cautious about the level of enthusiasm for stops. The problem we have is that every stop means the journey will be longer. Generally speaking, with the exception of the Mitchell traders, when you ask people whether they want a stop, of course they say, “Yes, I would like a stop about 50 metres from my place.” I would have thought everybody would like that, and generally community consultation comes to that sort of result.

That was one of the big things in stage 1—it was explicitly said as part of the community consultation, “We have too many stops on this line and we are going to remove some,” which is one of the things which made Downer particularly concerned because we were not even there the first time. We are very pleased that the government listened to community consultation and that there is a stop in Downer. One of the things we will have to look at in terms of light rail going forward is ensuring that there is the potential for stops to be bypassed in some cases where they may be less popular stops so that the timing works well. This is something, obviously, for future considerations.

Mr Wall’s motion talks about building a light rail stop and more parking. I recognise the need for park and ride in some places, so the idea of a rail stop and more parking is not absolutely 100 per cent silly. But in this instance I must admit that I cannot see the point of it. There is, in fact, park and ride at EPIC, which is not that far away. If people are driving any distance, they would be able to go from Mitchell to EPIC where there is, as we all know, abundant parking during the week because EPIC needs that space for the wonderful events that happen there at the weekend. That would seem to be one of the less obvious options as to what should happen. I agree with the minister’s comments about how we need to explore other options. Whatever transport options we have in Canberra, we have to reduce our dependence on private petrol-burning cars for many, many reasons: congestion, fossil fuels and equity, as they are very expensive things to run.

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