Page 484 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 19 February 2020

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MS LEE: Minister, how does the $234 million a year interest bill to service the $3 billion debt bomb undermine the government’s ability to care for Canberrans experiencing homelessness?

MS BERRY: The government has been clear that it will not stop spending to support people in the ACT just for the sake of a surplus.

MR PARTON: Minister, how will the government’s $3 million debt bomb and massive interest repayments hurt those suffering from homelessness in the future.

MS BERRY: I think I have answered that question in my previous response, which was that the government will not be stopping any kind of support for people who need it most. In fact, we have made it very clear that we will continue to support people who need that additional support. We had a big conversation this morning about all of the different kinds of supports that were in place and the ACT government has delivered on. I do not know whether Mr Parton was here listening to that, but if he wants to check—

Mr Parton: I was listening; don’t worry.

MS BERRY: Okay, cool, then you know.

Light rail—stage 2 federal government approvals

MR GUPTA: My question is to the Minister for Transport. Can the minister advise about the progress of negotiations with the federal government on the environmental and heritage approvals required for light rail stage 2?

MR STEEL: I thank Mr Gupta for his question. Our government is building on the success of light rail stage 1 by getting on with the work of extending the benefits of light rail to other parts of Canberra. We are investing in infrastructure now to ensure that Canberra does not end up like Sydney and Melbourne in terms of their congestion.

That is why last year we referred the extension in two parts to the commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act process. The light rail project is progressing as expected to the next stage of that process, with stage 2A to be assessed as a controlled action based on preliminary documentation.

This decision from the federal government reinforces our choice to deliver the light rail extension to Woden project in two stages. The process of assessment for stage 2A means that we can get on with the job of extending light rail to Woden sooner.

We always expected that an extensive environmental impact statement process would be required for the more complex stage 2B extension through the parliamentary triangle under the commonwealth environmental approval process and the EPBC Act. We look forward to that process proceeding to consider the environmental and heritage issues in parallel with work on stage 2A.

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