Press conference, Canberra

ALICIA PAYNE: Good morning. I’m Alicia Payne, the Member for Canberra, and I’m really happy to be here this morning with Kristy McBain, the Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, for an important announcement about Light Rail and opening the next stage of consultation on Stage 2A, which is coming up to the start of the bridge here.

This is a really important opportunity for Canberrans to have their say about how that will look, the materials used, how it will fit in with other modes of transport such as walking and riding, and how it fits in with the natural environment. I really encourage Canberrans to take that opportunity to have their say about this really important infrastructure project for Canberra, which is an important investment in public transport, getting cars off the road, good for the environment and good for our city as it grows into the future.

I’ll hand over to Kristy. Thanks.

KRISTY MCBAIN, MINISTER: Thank you, Alicia. Can I start this morning by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the lands on where we meet and pay my respects to Elders past and present. Last week we saw the Machinery Referendum Bill go through both Houses of Parliament. We are moving quickly towards a referendum later this year on a Voice to Parliament, a chance for our nation to come together and acknowledge and appropriately recognise First Nations peoples in the Constitution. I look forward to Canberrans taking that journey with us later this year.

As Alicia said, a fantastic day, we are opening consultation on Stage 2A of the Light Rail development, an important step because we know that in 1918 the Griffin Plan acknowledged that there would be a rail or a tram network, a modern transport network, for Canberrans to get around. We know how incredibly proud Canberrans are of their city. It means a lot to them, which is why the National Capital Authority have opened consultations so that we can talk to Canberrans directly and hear from them directly about the design elements that mean the most to them with this light rail project.

Stage 2A takes us from Northbourne Avenue, sees the levelling of Commonwealth Avenue and gets us to Commonwealth Park. A fantastic initiative, three additional stops and really connects our city to one of its best assets in this park and the lake behind us.

This is an important step, and the ACT and the Federal Governments are working together. It’s an important moment for Canberrans to have their say on what that design looks like, and it’s important that we actually work together on how this rolls out.

Are there any questions?

JOURNALIST: Why is there two different consultations? I understand the difference between the ACT government and the NCA. What’s the delineation between the two, you know, if someone wants to say something about trees or the design process?

KRISTY MCBAIN: As we move into stage 2A it comes within the designation of the National Capital Authority. They have the approval works for anything that happens in the Parliamentary Triangle. They are the custodians of the Griffin Plan. They are the body that works directly with the Federal Government over things that happen within the Parliamentary Triangle. This process is the NCA opening consultation on those design elements. It’s us making sure that we’re keeping within that Griffin Plan, and it’s us making sure that Canberrans who are very proud of their city have a say in how it looks going forward.

JOURNALIST: What’s the funding commitment, the total funding commitment to 2A?

KRISTY MCBAIN: The Federal Government has been working with the ACT Government, and all of those funding commitments come through Minister King’s office.

JOURNALIST: But you would know what the amount is?

KRISTY MCBAIN: There was an announcement previously made by Minister King with Minister Chris Steel from the ACT Government about funding for stage 2A and that directly rests with them.

JOURNALIST: Okay. So what percentage of the funding made in that announcement - is it half?

KRISTY MCBAIN: That is a matter for Minister King and for Minister Steel, and they’ll be doing some additional media on that going forward.

JOURNALIST: So how much – or, rather, what would need to come up in the consultation phase for any of these plans to change significantly?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Our consultation is directly around those design elements. It’s about making sure that we are keeping within the plan that Canberrans are rightly proud of, that Griffin Plan. It’s about making sure that we are hearing directly from Canberrans about the things that matter most to them – environmental sustainability, the materials, how it will actually look on the road surface. In terms of the overall cost, that rests with the ACT Government to make those decisions.

JOURNALIST: What would someone have to say or what would a group have to say that would be strong enough to say – I don’t know – change the type of tree or make a significant shift in terms of those design elements?

KRISTY MCBAIN: The consultation process will enable the NCA to talk further to the ACT Government directly about what we have heard. We know the NCA is responsible for the Parliamentary Triangle and people are very proud of how this place looks. We will pass on all that feedback to the ACT Government and make sure that they are consulted in what we’ve heard.

JOURNALIST: This may be a different way of asking, but how locked in is the design?

KRISTY MCBAIN: From our point of view we want to make sure that we are hearing directly from Canberrans. It is really important that we stick to what the Griffin Plan said. Canberrans are rightly proud of so much that happens in this park, about this lake. We know the usage it gets. We want to make sure that any design takes into account what the plan says but, most importantly, that the ACT Government are acknowledging that the NCA are the Parliamentary Triangle custodians.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask you about the bridge? Can you tell me about the designs for that, how that’s sort of going to function, so there’ll be a third bridge down the middle of tram line?

KRISTY MCBAIN: The bridge design is still underway. That is taking place with the ACT Government, with the NCA and the Federal Government. Stage 2A gets us from Northbourne Avenue to Commonwealth Park. Stage 2B contemplates how we go over Commonwealth Bridge and further afield. This consultation process is specifically about stage 2A.

JOURNALIST: I meant the bridge over Parkes Way.

KRISTY MCBAIN: Those design elements specifically rest with the ACT Government on that route. We’ll make sure any feedback is provided directly to the ACT Government.

JOURNALIST: What kind of time frame will it be? Will it be open consultation for six weeks from today and then from there, and then when is Stage 2A going to be completed?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Our consultation process is six weeks. Plenty of time to have face-to-face consultations. We’ll be having consultation at Regatta Point, on Northbourne Avenue, in specific cafes, and all of that information is available on the NCA’s website. Really looking forward to as many people as possible feeding into that process. After that timeframe, the NCA will collate all of the feedback we’ve received, pass it on to the ACT Government and work with them on what 2A looks like from a design standpoint. We’ll make sure that that information is fed back to our community through the NCA website as well.

JOURNALIST: How much of this 2A is actually in NCA land? Because obviously a lot of it’s in the city. How does this consultation relate to that?

KRISTY MCBAIN: It’s really important that Canberrans are able to have their say. We know that the Griffin Plan is largely for this entire precinct. The NCA land is over the Parliamentary Triangle, but we are the custodians of the Griffin Plan and we need to make sure that in keeping with that, and in keeping faith with what Canberrans are asking us to do, that we open consultation widely. This is the NCA reaching out to community to say, “we want to hear from you. We want to make sure that your views are taken into account.” We know how important the design of this city is and we want to make sure that we’re working with the ACT Government to achieve something that’s not only functional, but aesthetically pleasing.

JOURNALIST: Is any additional federal funding coming for this?

KRISTY MCBAIN: All of the funding decisions rest with Minister King’s office.

JOURNALIST: You’re not ruling it out?

KRISTY MCBAIN: All of those funding decisions rest with Minister King.

JOURNALIST: Should the Federal Government give some more money to the next stage?

ALICIA PAYNE: All of those decisions rest with Minister King.

JOURNALIST: Another one for you Minister. You say you want Canberrans to have their say. I am personally still not clear on the delineation between if you have a problem with something who do you ask? So maybe what is not covered by the consultation from the NCA’s point of view. I understand the ACT are running a separate consultation. So where does one stop and the other start? What is not covered by the consultation?

KRISTY MCBAIN: In terms of the functionality of the project, such as where the decisions on where the stops are going to be and the type of carriages that are potentially used, are all decisions that rest directly with the ACT Government. The decisions around design and how it fits in with the overall plan for this city are ours. The NCA want to make sure that we are hearing directly from Canberrans and can feed that back into the ACT Government.

This project has to be aesthetically pleasing, as well as functional. That’s what the NCA’s role is – to really make sure that the Griffin Plan is adhered to. So that we are still keeping within those aesthetics and that we make sure we can talk to the ACT Government about those specific things. In terms of functionality, it rests solely with the ACT Government.

JOURNALIST: The Griffins did their plans and their drawings and won that competition, you know, 130 years ago. Why is that plan so relevant today?

KRISTY MCBAIN: It anticipated Canberra being a modern city years into the future. We see in that 1918 plan, a modern transport network that envisaged a tram network. We’re over a hundred years down the track now and we’re finally getting to the stage where we’re looking at putting in light rail that goes through the city and beyond. Obviously a hundred years ago they were anticipating something a little bit different, but they still knew this city would grow, and that it would rightly take its place as the nation’s capital. We rely on this place for so much and to make sure that it is a functioning city, we need a functioning and modern transport network.

JOURNALIST: Noting that the funding decisions rest with Minister King’s office, when are we going to hear from Minister King? I mean, that is the question on everybody’s lips.

KRISTY MCBAIN: There will be some additional announcements tomorrow around a whole range of things to do with stage 2A. Every decision in terms of Budget and process is with the ACT government and Minister King’s office.

JOURNALIST: There have been some other changes since 1918, obviously there’s not a freeway on the map. There’s also no apartments. So Burley Griffin designed this city that looks like Munich, we don’t have a city that looks like Munich, 

KRISTY MCBAIN: Any city grows and evolves to take into account its circumstances around it. What has happened in Canberra is that most of the developments that have taken place have been in keeping with the overall idea of how Canberra was to proceed as a city. It’s fantastic that 105 years on from the Burley Griffin plan, so many people are rightly proud of this city and want to stick to the general themes of that plan.