2CC Stephen Cenatiempo Breakfast Show

09 December 2022


SUBJECTS: Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories; National Capital Authority; Light rail.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: Yesterday, the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories held its first public hearing with the National Capital Authority. As the committee's biannual briefings recommence for the 47th parliament. The briefings with the NCA have been held regularly since 2009. The committee chair is the Member for Canberra, Alicia Payne, and she joins us on the line. Hi Alicia.


CENATIEMPO: This would probably be one of the more interesting parts of your job I would've thought.

PAYNE: Well, I am really pleased to have been appointed this term as the chair of that committee. I think it's really fitting to have a Canberran on there, because obviously the NCA makes a lot of important decisions that affect the capital, but that also many are then approved by the parliament. So it's a really important role in scrutinising those decisions that affect our national capital.

CENATIEMPO: There's a lot going on with the National Capital Authority at the moment. Obviously, the expansion of the War Memorial has been a big issue, the light rail is an issue at the moment with the crossover between the capital authority and the ACT government. We've obviously got the drama with the Russian embassy. Were all of these things covered, or are they some of those outside of what you're looking at with this committee?

PAYNE: All of those within the scope. We didn't ask about all of those things, because there were many things and in a two hour hearing and we didn't. But certainly one of the issues I asked about was the light rail, and essentially where the engagement with the ACT government was up to with that on stage 2A and 2B. So the ACT Government haven't actually put in the formal public works approvals. There's quite a process with the NCA with how all these works are approved. And that will be expected next week. And that means that early next year, probably February or March, Canberrans will be able to see the plans and be consulted on what that 2A section looks like. So that's just the section from Allara Street to Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. Obviously, the raising of London Circuit has begun. But this is about the actual stations and the actual infrastructure of the light rail. So that will be a big consultation process. Beginning probably March next year.

CENATIEMPO: Is that strange that they haven't had that consultation period, but they're already starting to rip up London Circuit?

PAYNE: No, and this is one of the things, because it is quite a process. And it was good yesterday to be able to talk through the steps of that. So obviously, that raising of London circuit has already been approved. And also, it's important to note that the NCA is consulting on the, so it's not the NCAs role to consult on whether or not light rail is a good idea. And I think that's been to two elections and that's been very popular with Canberrans. But the NCA's roll is that once that's gone ahead is to look at the actual way that the light rail fits in with the character of the Parliamentary Triangle, the heritage as a planned capital, and that belongs to all Australians. That's why the federal parliament and the NCA has a say in that, and also, of course, safety and things like that. And then importantly the NCA then needs to consult separate from the person who has proposed the work. So in this case, that's the ACT Government. So they will be running that consultation. And it was really interesting to talk a bit more about consultation with them yesterday about how it's hard to often capture everyone's views and not everyone wants to make a submission. There are people who just want to be able to have their say on social media or come to a meeting and that they're very committed to trying to engage all Canberrans in that discussion.

CENATIEMPO: Okay, fascinating process. Alicia, appreciate your time. I'm sure we'll probably talk before Christmas. So we'll talk then.

PAYNE: Thanks, Stephen. Have a good day.

CENATIEMPO: Alicia Payne, the federal Member for Canberra and chair of that committee, the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories.