I welcome the Prime Minister’s interest in a Hobart northern suburbs light rail system and his preparedness to consider funding the project.
In response to a question from me today in the Parliament the Prime Minister made it clear that he is aware of the project and open-minded about supporting it. But he made it equally clear that Canberra can do nothing unless and until the Tasmanian Government wants to build light rail and puts a request for funding to the Federal Government.
The fact that we have a Prime Minister who has demonstrated an interest in rail and an open-minded approach to funding public transport projects means that it’s now more important than ever for the Tasmanian Government to seize the moment and make the case for funding.
The Tasmanian community has been let down dreadfully by a succession of state governments when it comes to effective public transport in the greater Hobart area. Indeed the worst culprit was probably the most recent Labor-Green State Government which refused to pursue funding for light rail despite the hung Parliament in Canberra where I held the balance of power. That a Green was the state Sustainable Transport Minister at the time obviously amounted to nothing.
A northern suburbs light rail will link communities, reduce road congestion, save money and help clean up the environment. Moreover the project has broad support, including from international experts such as Professor Peter Newman, who the Prime Minister himself acknowledged today.