I stand today to support the funding in this year’s budget for capital metro and to reiterate my support for this project. This is a Labor commitment being delivered by a Labor government who knows what it means to plan and deliver for the future.
It is, as Minister Corbell outlined and when quoting Mrs Dunne, a vision for the future. It is a vision for an integrated public transport network for our future starting with stage 1, the light rail route from Civic to Gungahlin. It is a transport solution. It is a job solution. It is an economic solution. It is proven to drive greater public transport use, jobs growth and economic growth, particularly along the stage 1 corridor. It is a Labor commitment to address the growing needs of our city, to bring new jobs to Canberra. It will bring choice to our public transport network, more options for more people.
I note that those opposite have quoted the views of constituents. I, too, would like to quote the views of constituents from Gungahlin who have spoken on light rail in a recent Gungahlin Community Council survey conducted late last year and early this year with the results released in February this year. What the people of Gungahlin said about the capital metro project was that 75 per cent indicated they support the project.
But for me the more important figure that came out of that survey was not the level of support alone but the number of people who said that they would use the light rail system when it is built in 2019-20.
Some 65 per cent of the 1,300 people that completed the survey said they will be using light rail. Members of this place know well the members of the GCC executive. Their analysis of these findings is that the results of the section on public transport combined with previous questions on how people get to work indicate that many more people are likely to use light rail than use the red rapid bus transport system. That is what the people of Gungahlin have been saying about their views on stage 1 of capital metro.
Indeed, this choice to bring light rail to our public transport network means significant growth in jobs, significant economic growth and opportunity along the corridor and significant opportunity to change our transport behaviours. We cannot keep building roads. As roads grow and as they are duplicated they inevitably fill up. There is a cost to building roads and maintaining roads. As Minister Gentleman has spoken about in this place, this government invests heavily in roads. But in the future we cannot continue to just build more roads. I note somewhat ironically that the cost of roads construction and maintenance in this city, which is necessary, does not receive the same level of critique from the opposition as a public transport network receives. But that is typical and probably to be expected from a Liberal Party.
It is also worth while to think about alternatives. I think we all agree in this place that congestion is a problem that we need to deal with. If we can agree on that premise, what is it that we do about our most congested route in the city? What is it we do particularly around the Northbourne Avenue corridor over the next five, 10, 15 and 20 years? This government put a commitment on the table at the 2012 election and was voted back into government at the 2012 election to deliver on its election platform. It committed to build light rail. The people of Canberra voted in 2012, and this Labor government is delivering on that commitment.
Certainly a debate that is about spending money and investing in the future versus a debate which provides no alternatives throws up a conversation in our community. What I am most looking forward to is an actual debate about the alternatives we need to address a problem that I think we can all agree on. People that travel the route from Gungahlin to Civic every day—whether they live in Bonner or Amaroo or Nicholls or Harrison or Downer or Watson or Lyneham—experience that daily commute every day. They understand that congestion is a problem; they understand something needs to happen. As we approach next year and the people again get to make a choice about which party presents a vision and a plan to deliver that vision for how we grow as a city and as a community, the real debate will start.
It is certainly reasonable for individuals in the community to ask: what is in this for me? What do I get out of this project? That is a question this side of the chamber is willing to answer. When we look at the Canberra Liberals’ counterparts on the hill, one of their main tactics, as the Chief Minister said in starting this debate, was opposition for opposition’s sake. It is coming home to roost for the federal Liberal Party in government that being involved in a community debate on opposition for opposition’s sake, instilling fear in people about what options are on the table for them, and saying no and opposing something is a vastly different undertaking than it is to propose an alternative solution that people can weigh up. I look forward to that debate over the course of the next year. I note that it has been nearly three years since the last election—nearly three years since this Labor government made a commitment to build light rail—and still there are very few alternatives on the table.
We are delivering on that promise to duplicate Horse Park Drive and Gundaroo Drive. It will be well advanced and underway as we head to next year’s election.
I look forward to some alternative being put on the table so that this community is better served by the people that seek to represent them in this chamber. The opposition should provide an alternative and not do what their federal counterparts do, because certainly it appears it has come back to bite them as they take on the responsibility of governing and making decisions and investing the community’s tax dollars into projects that plan for the future. Capital metro stage 1, Civic to Gungahlin, does exactly that.