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Metro Tasmania – Hobart Bus Interchange

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Tags: Metro Tasmania, Public Transport

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, you are part of a government that went to the 2018 state election with a plan for an underground bus interchange. Where is that planning at?

Mr FERGUSON - Chair, if you are happy for me to go partway into this issue, it is not a matter for the Metro Board and CEO and this scrutiny. I am happy to indicate that through the Department of State Growth, this is a piece of work that happens in the department, in planning with bus providers and the Hobart City Council.

There is significant work that is underway. I do not have a brief before me but that would be a legitimate question to be asking outside this scrutiny hearing. There's work underway to identify location and the constructability model for a future Hobart transit centre, recognising that the commitment does stand to deliver better infrastructure so that our service offering in Hobart can expand and grow. We've met the capacity issue. The services have largely met the capacity that's available here in Hobart at the Elizabeth Street facilities. So, there will be more to say in the new year. I'm not equipped with this scrutiny for a more detailed answer than that.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, minister. As you know, this is a subject that's come up at Metro scrutiny hearings since the state election. Can you confirm it is your intention to turn City Hall into the transit centre and to pave over the Hobart Rivulet?

Mr FERGUSON - I'm not going to make any announcements today. I don't have advice to pursue any particular option and nor will I be speculating on that. I can answer your question by confirming that no such decision has been taken. That's really taken me to the limit of what I even able -

Ms O'CONNOR - Can you -

Mr FERGUSON - If you don't mind, that's really taken me to the limit of what I can discuss.

Ms O'CONNOR - Why?

Mr FERGUSON - For two reasons. I've already indicated to you that I don't have that kind of advice; nor has a decision been made. Importantly, it's not something that is within the terms of this scrutiny hearing.

Ms O'CONNOR - It is our very clear understanding that you are actively considering and working on turning City Hall into the new Hobart transit centre. As you know, this is a public building, which is much loved as a gathering place for the people of southern Tasmania.

Mr FERGUSON - Thank you for the question. That's my answer -

Ms O'CONNOR - So, you haven't ruled out using City Hall as a transit centre?

Mr FERGUSON - You're just pivoting your question.

Ms O'CONNOR - You could've just said no.

Mr FERGUSON - Earlier you asserted that a decision had been made. I've answered that, that's incorrect. You're pivoting to speculate. It's really an interesting subject. It's really important.

Ms O'CONNOR - You haven't ruled out turning City Hall into a transit centre?

Mr FERGUSON - It's important for the Government and it's important for the people of southern Tasmania. When we have made a decision on advice, or if there's advice that develops that I can share with the community, I look forward to doing so.

Ms O'CONNOR - I think you've been caught out.

Mr FERGUSON - You're inviting me to speculate. I'm in no position to do so.

Ms O'CONNOR - This is an active project, you know it.

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, excuse me, I'm speaking. It's outside of the bounds of this scrutiny hearing. I let the minister answer because he was prepared to give a muted response. If you would like to ask another question on a different topic, you can ask another question or I can move to Ms White.

Mr FERGUSON - I will just say, Chair, to deny Ms O'Connor her attempted 'gotcha moment', there is a range of options that I am aware of that are being considered by the department.

Consultants have been asked for advice on not just locations, but also how the service - we're expanding, as you know Ms O'Connor, 70 extra services out of southern suburbs alone, so we want to grow the capacity. The infrastructure in place right now won't allow that. There is a range of options.

To deny you your 'gotcha moment', I'm more than comfortable saying that there are a range of options being discussed, considered but I'm in no position to confirm or deny it.

Ms O'CONNOR - This is a matter of significant public interest.

Mr FERGUSON - I don't have that advice but I can assure you, to answer your question, in which you falsely asserted a decision has been made, that is incorrect.