Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Capital Metro - Our Assembly discusses it - Hansard April 2013

As ACT Light Rail suggested in our previous post, the ACT Government are not very effective in communicating with the public about the work occurring on the Capital Metro light rail project. We present more Hansard, for your analysis. In answers to the questions asked, the Minister discusses the composition of the agency to oversee Capital Metro and the governance of the project. 

This debate occurred in April and can be found at

Transport—light rail

DR BOURKE: My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development. Minister, can you tell the Assembly how the light rail project already committed to by the government ties in with the city plan and the city to the lake plans announced last month.

MR CORBELL: I thank Dr Bourke for his question. One of the main themes of the city plan released for public comment last month is transport and movement— providing multiple modes of transport, supporting sustainable growth and improving access and movement within the city centre. An important aim of the plan is to ensure that the transport needs of the community are integrated into it. The boundaries and directions of the city plan will be influenced by a number of major initiatives, including the capital metro project, the analysis along Northbourne Avenue, the Constitution Avenue upgrade and the broader city to the lake proposals. The objective of the city plan is to unlock the potential of Canberra’s city centre and better integrate it with public transport, with residential development and with better recreation spaces, and link also to the important economic and social drivers of the ANU and the CIT campuses.

The capital metro project sits very well within this overall framework. Indeed, decisions about capital metro will inform the way the city grows and develops, and its overall planning framework, and vice versa. Capital metro, as members will know, is at this stage intended to terminate on Northbourne Avenue at a terminus between Alinga and Bunda streets. In line with the government’s commitment to a future Canberra-wide network, future stages are anticipated to connect through the city to points south of the lake or points to the east, or both, such as Kingston via Barton; Woden; Tuggeranong; and so on.

The city plan therefore provides us with the opportunity to understand how the capital metro project will mesh with development in the city centre. We need to look, for example, at how we treat some important roads like London Circuit and Vernon Circle. The National Capital Authority, in its Griffin legacy amendments to the national capital plan, has set out what it believes is necessary for the future use of those two important streets. The government will now have to consider how the extension of the capital metro project in future stages engages with London Circuit or Vernon Circle. These are the types of issues that the government will be paying very close attention to.

We also need to appreciate, of course, that if certain uses are ultimately decided as appropriate for parts of the city centre, such as a new convention centre or a new city stadium, there will need to be adequate provision of effective and efficient public transport to move large numbers of people quickly to and from those locations. Once again, the capital metro project and the work that is currently underway in relation to it will help inform how the city plan and the city to the lake project work together to achieve something that I think we should all be supportive of, and that is a more active, a more vibrant, city centre that takes best advantage of its best address, which is Lake Burley Griffin.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, how will a light rail system contribute to the development
of our city in its second century?

MR CORBELL: I thank Dr Bourke for his supplementary. What is important about this project is to understand that it is not just a project around transport provision, as critical and as important as it is. It is also an important project in the context of the development of our city—where development takes place, where people choose to live. If we are able to leverage the potential of a light rail project in the way many other cities have around the world, we will see many more people choosing to live close to this corridor.

That changes the pattern of settlement for the city. It potentially has implications as to how rapidly and how quickly greenfields development occurs over the coming period compared to a business as usual situation. It means that potentially more people are choosing to live in apartments, townhouses, row housing and so on close to a highly efficient, permanent and rapid public transport spine.

These are the types of issues that we need to have regard to when we look at the overall cost-effectiveness of a business plan around the capital metro project. It is not just about moving people; it is also about leveraging development opportunity, changing and potentially more efficiently delivering forms of development that meet people’s need and that are more efficient for the territory to deliver.

These are the types of issues at stake. That is why I am proud to be part of a government that is prepared to take this step, to make the shift, towards a more sustainable future and towards a future that focuses on transit through light rail as a
key tool in leveraging not just better public transport for people but also a more sustainable form of development across the city.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Coe.

MR COE: Minister, how much has been spent to date on light rail and how much do
you expect the total project to cost taxpayers?

MR CORBELL: I note that Mr Coe has asked this of me in a question on notice. I am pleased to advise Mr Coe that I have the answer to his question. $913,000 was spent in 2011-12 and to date $76,000 has been spent in 2012-13.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Berry.

MS BERRY: Minister, how is the Capital Metro project proceeding since you
announced it last September?

MR CORBELL: Again, I thank Ms Berry for her supplementary. Significant work has been undertaken within government to set the framework and the groundwork for governance and oversight of this very important project. Given the complexity of the project, the government has agreed to the establishment of a Capital Metro agency to be established from 1 July this year, which will be overseen by a project board. The government has agreed that I will be the responsible minister for this project.

The agency will be headed by a project director, who will directly report to the board. The board will be a decision-making one concentrating on strategic issues relating to the successful progression of the project. The government is currently in the process of recruiting a project director to lead the new agency and a suitably qualified person to chair the board.

In the interim, a senior executive of the ACT government service has carriage of the project, ensuring that the necessary financial, legal, governance and administrative arrangements are set in place in the initial life of the new agency. We will soon be undertaking detailed risk analysis to understand and manage the risks presented by the project and identify appropriate mitigation strategies.

We have begun coordination of research for what will become the property strategy for the corridor, recognising the significant redevelopment potential along the corridor. The government is also in the process of developing a land release model that is able to quickly react to market requirements, attentive to social and environmental impacts of urban renewal along the corridor.

Work is also underway on a range of preliminary engineering investigations, transport planning, and economic and financing studies. This highlights that the government is getting on with the job of delivering on this important election commitment and implementing a strong and robust governance framework to guide the future development of the project.

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