Light rail ready to leave the station - Speech, Federation Chamber



I have good news and bad news.

The good news is thousands of hardworking Canberrans may soon have a quick and easy way to get to work.

But the bad news is the coalition is trying to stop it. I'm afraid Liberal Senator Zed Seselja is trying his best to hold up investment in public transport and light rail in Canberra.

We know a majority of Canberrans don't agree with it. In fact, the people of this city went to an election on this issue; actually, they went to two elections on this issue.

It's been decided and, if anybody should know, it's Zed Seselja, who lost the last two ACT elections in which he led his party. But just like when he abstained from the vote on marriage equality in the other place, Senator Seselja is ignoring the clear and unambiguous wishes of voters. They voted yes three to one; he stayed AWOL.

Now he is trying again to declare the Woden extension of the network, announced well before the 2016 ACT election, to be needlessly referred to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories in an attempt to slow down the project and bring its progress to a stop.

The National Capital Authority and the ACT government have worked closely together over many years on this project, particularly on the expansion across the lake through the parliamentary triangle to Woden. Everyone involved is well aware of the work and consultation required. It would be within the spirit of the Prime Minister's support for public transport to encourage rather than to hold up light rail.

I was pleased to be at the opening of the Majura Parkway two years ago, a project that started under the last Labor federal government. That was the last time the federal government contributed in any significant way to investment in Canberra transport. There is no need for further delays in the project. Canberrans have waited for two terms of Liberal federal governments in vain for investment in their transportation networks. Now the Canberra Liberals are attempting to delay light rail even further.

Let's not forget it was Senator Seselja who previously argued for the Commonwealth to have less influence on local infrastructure, saying to the Canberra Times, 'Why is it that a Commonwealth minister needs to be involved in planning decisions that, in other parts of Australia, are ordinarily the domain of state and local governments? Ultimately it is the people who live in this city who know how best to develop this city.'

Well, Senator, if you believe in that, you should be supporting light rail going ahead. Just like the decisive ACT result on marriage equality, the people of Canberra do know what's best for our city. They went to the ballot box; they voted twice for light rail.

We don't want to see the Canberra Liberals taking a wrecking ball to transport.

Light rail is ready to leave the station. It is time Senator Zed Seselja got on board.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.