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Infrastructure and Transport - Hobart Light Rail

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Tags: Hobart Light Rail, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - The northern suburbs transit corridor options technical report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers dated November last year recommended several next steps to progress the corridor which, let's be frank, your Government has dragged its heels on. They are to undertake a detailed condition assessment of the existing rail and corridor infrastructure, to conduct a topographic survey along the length of the corridor, perform a geotechnical investigation at strategic locations along the length of the corridor and undertake a detailed engineering options and concept design study which is informed by the above studies. Minister, I can't find any funding in the budget for these actions. Can you tell us when and if your Government will implement the proposed actions from the PricewaterhouseCoopers' report and, critically, start activating that transit corridor?

Mr FERGUSON - The Hobart City Deal which, by the way, also encompasses the extra lane on the Southern Outlet, does propose - and we've agreed to activate public transport on the northern transit corridor but we have been mode agnostic. We have not - no signatory to that is committed to a particular mode of transport and that is a 5-10-year delivery in the original time frame so I think that takes us to 2024 to 2029 in terms of activation.

I would like to exceed that target. I would like to see it delivered sooner. Importantly, there is a commitment to support activation for corridor. There is the PricewaterhouseCoopers' consultancy on transport mode analysis and also let's not forget that activation of the corridor is not just about transport; it's also about land use change and urban renewal.

Ms O'CONNOR - I don't need a lecture from you on that. We're just waiting for you to tell us when it will happen.

CHAIR - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr FERGUSON - I don't appreciate that. That's not fair and I reject it because the activation -

Ms O'CONNOR - Patronising.

Mr FERGUSON - Many people forget that activation means transport as well as land use change. To get more people living there is part of the vision which is a significant role for local government as well. The current work -

Ms O'CONNOR - And also just to the original part of the question which is about the funding which is not in the budget.

Mr FERGUSON - We do have a commitment of $25 million from the Australian Government as part of the Hobart City Deal towards activation. That relies on a decision of government as to what activation should look like and how it can be done. I am going to ask the deputy secretary, Mr Swain, to respond further. At the request of other Hobart City Deal signatories, we've actually undertaken or commenced a track condition report, which is necessary, off the back of the PricewaterhouseCoopers' report to know if that existing rail infrastructure is even usable.

Mr SWAIN - That report has been done under a working group which I chair which involves the two key councils - Hobart and Glenorchy - and the federal government and ourselves. We were hoping to have that report done by the end of August but ran into some COVID 19 blockages where one of the engineering experts was to come from Melbourne but then couldn't travel because of COVID 19 so he moved to Sydney. He then couldn't travel because of COVID 19 so he went back to Melbourne. We're now expecting that report by the middle of September and when we have that report we will then be talking to the councils and the federal government about it.

Ms O'CONNOR - Which report?

Mr FERGUSON - The track condition report.

Mr SWAIN - There's a track condition report which is the main item that you identified in the PricewaterhouseCoopers' report. That is substantially complete and will be completed by the middle of September. Then we will engage with the councils and the federal government about it. In terms of funding for that report, it may come out of the $25 million but in the interests of avoiding any unnecessary delays we've cash flowed that through the department at this stage.

Ms O'CONNOR - The funding was for the measures outlined in the PricewaterhouseCoopers' report around geotechnical investigations, topographical, as well as track condition. There's no funding in the budget for the measures that were recommended.

Mr FERGUSON - How are we funding those? Under what line item?

Ms O'CONNOR - You should know. You're the minister.

Mr FERGUSON - Excuse me, please.

Mr SWAIN - It has been cash-flowed through the department at the moment. When that condition report is received we will share it with the Commonwealth and we will be seeking to have that funded through the $25 million that is set aside in the federal budget and under the City Deal.