ACT government ministers will have a regular presence in Singapore in the next two years as Treasurer Andrew Barr looks to the city-state’s mass rapid transit network as a possible blueprint for Canberra.
Mr Barr is in Hong Kong on Monday and will travel to China’s southern business capital Shenzhen to meet executives at the communication giant Huawei’s campus headquarters.
At the end of a week-long trade delegation Mr Barr toured the operations centre for Singapore’s sprawling MRT network, which carries more than 2.6 million passengers every day.
He said Canberra could learn from the single-ticketing model that operates across Singapore’s trains and buses, and better integrate taxis with the needs of public transport users.
Representatives of the agency charged with building the government’s ambitious light-rail line between Civic and Gungahlin could be sent to meet counterparts in Singapore and Mr Barr said further lessons could assist improvements to ACTION bus services.
Car ownership costs are kept high in the densely populated island and the MRT network operates with driverless trains above and below ground.
Mr Barr also discussed investment potential with state-owned and private businesses and talked up Canberra’s educational exports as influencing key decision makers and wealthy consumers.
Tourism and business leaders said the trip, described as the ACT’s largest ever overseas trade mission, was a success in further promoting the ACT for travel and investment.
Mr Barr said ministers and public servants would travel each year until at least the next territory election in 2016.
More full-page newspaper advertisements promoting the capital region will be part of continued efforts to secure direct flights from the aviation hub to Canberra.
Awareness of the ACT’s tourism offerings remains low in the Singapore market, where consumers favour repeat visits to Australia. Members of the delegation remained optimistic a deal on flights could be reached.
“We are very keen for [MRT] to become involved in the Canberra market with new technologies and new ways of delivery and upgrading public transport services,” Mr Barr said.
“It also follows on from our meetings with ComfortDelGro who have some significant public transport investments in our region. What I am particularly interested in exploring is those integration possibilities between taxi, bus and light rail.”
Mr Barr said there was potential for bus passengers to use taxis during low-demand periods and pay with MyWay cards.
Canberra Business Council chief executive Chris Faulks said the 40 business representatives who joined the delegation had made significant inroads into Asian markets.
“These connections will be followed up over the next weeks and months and many well result in new export deals across the three themes of the trade mission, ICT: education, tourism and sport.
“It augers well for the future growth of exports from Canberra and the region to Asia and beyond,” Ms Faulks said.
“It was yet another demonstration of the exponential growth of dynamic businesses in the ACT and region – businesses that have a global outlook and are world-class in the products and services they are offering."