Page 4486 - Week 12 - Thursday, 26 October 2017

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Last week I opened the Dickson bus interchange and I was extremely pleased to mention the nine rapid services the government took to the election. I noted Mr Parton spoke of “a comprehensive public transport plan” that the opposition took to last year’s election. Well, I would argue—as I think most Canberrans would—that that was not a comprehensive plan. It included a number of rapid bus services, which was a tremendous improvement on any previous Canberra Liberals transport plan—apart, of course, from Mrs Dunne’s past keen support for light rail—but it did not provide any costings or any information on how they would achieve that wonderful eight-lane concrete highway along Northbourne Avenue. If the opposition were in government today we would not be seeing work along Northbourne Avenue to deliver a beautiful public transport system; we would see the Canberra Liberals struggling to pay for the $200 million to $300 million bill to Canberra Metro for tearing up that contract and to deal with continued ongoing congestion on Canberra’s busiest road.

I certainly welcome the Canberra Liberals’ recognition—in what was probably a step forward for them—that Canberra can be a city for public transport and not just a city built for the car. Public transport is working now and will work even better in the future. One of the reasons for that is because not only will Labor deliver the nine rapid public transport routes across the city but it will deliver them two years ahead of schedule. That is a remarkable achievement. I thank all those people in Transport Canberra who worked very hard to work with the government to find a way not only to deliver those services but to deliver them two years ahead of schedule.

Mr Parton will be pleased to know there will be two rapid services from his electorate along both the eastern and western parts. Mr Parton is looking a bit puzzled over there. If he has not yet seen the new rapid network, I will find a way to drop a copy off to his office. But Canberrans right across the territory will see a rapid bus or a light rail route near them. We have always said that Labor’s commitment was to deliver better public transport no matter where you live in Canberra, and we are going to do that two years ahead of time. In the next week or so I look forward to opening public consultation in a first stage of the new rapid network. We will be seeking Canberrans’ views on how they would best like to connect to our rapid network.

As Ms Lee quoted me, a rapid network is one where you can just turn up at a bus stop or a light rail stop and there will be a service for you within 15 minutes, 7 am to 7 pm, Monday to Friday, as well as increased frequencies of those exact same routes with the exact same numbers on the weekend. The consultation that the government did with the Canberra community last year clearly showed that Canberrans want simple timetables, faster travel between destinations and a simplified network. We look forward to opening that first stage of consultation on how Canberrans would best like to connect to the rapid network. Early next year we will take the results of that consultation and open stage 2 of the consultations, which will more specifically look at each of the local services connecting to the rapid bus routes.

I could talk extensively about the light rail project, but it is very clear that work is well underway. I was thrilled today to join three University of New South Wales second year engineering students who are getting hands-on, real life experience on the light rail project with Canberra Metro as we speak. They have been doing it a couple

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