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Infrastructure and Transport – Light Rail

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Tags: Hobart Light Rail

Ms O'CONNOR - Just on that, minister, what is the projected time frame for making a decision on the future of the transit corridor? I note that I did not see any specific line item in the Budget that relates to potential light rail or trackless trams. Tell us what the time line is first and also where the funding is expected to come from.

Mr FERGUSON - I will ask the secretary and deputy secretary to jump in here - in fact, Gary, aren't you the delegate on the working group for us?

Mr SWAIN - I am the chair of it.

Mr FERGUSON - I will ask Mr Swain in a moment in a moment to add to my answer. The City Deal commitment is to activate that rail corridor with a sustainable PT solution within 10 years. We are one and a half years in so that is an eight-and-a-half-year deadline. I do not want and this Government does not want to wait eight and a half years to secure a solution.

Funding is the great unanswered question here. The numbers, which I will not pre-empt until the report is released and then I am more than happy to talk about it at that point, are much larger and more expensive than anybody has previously estimated. It rivals the Bridgewater bridge, if you get my drift so it is a big amount. This is the advice of the consultants.

Rather than shooting anything down in flames I want to ensure that the working group and the City Deal partners can consider that advice and think about what mode we are going to select to activate the corridor and in what time frame, noting that the obvious barrier to that is securing significant funds in order to activate that corridor.

I do not want to be vague about this. We intend to activate the corridor with a PT solution but the guidance we have received to date does not rule any of those three modes out. They all have different cost profiles and different benefits to the community. I will invite the deputy secretary to add to my answer but I will say that we have $25 million right now and we are actively giving consideration to how we can use that regardless of the mode that is selected because I do not want to lose that funding.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you. I am really happy for Mr Swain to make a contribution but I hope he will be relatively brief because we have 20 minutes to go on this portfolio and MAST is in the room.

Mr FERGUSON - We will see how we go. Let us try to keep it brief.

Mr SWAIN - I can be brief. One funding avenue is through Infrastructure Australia. That would require us stepping through their five-step process, the first of which is problem or opportunity identification and then there is a business model phase where you work through some options, so that is a likely pathway. In relation to other work that has come out of the working group and the report, there are a number of things we have identified that could be worked on that are mode-neutral, for example the status of the existing bridges which were designed for heavy rail so they should be robust to any solution if they are in good condition. There is a number of examples like that where there are works that could be done to get the corridor primed and ready.