ACT News


Agreement means all aboard for light rail plan

Light rail, a plan to clean up Canberra's wetlands and legislation for marriage equality are key policies in ACT Labor's parliamentary agreement with the ACT Greens.

Nearly 100 policies are laid out in the agreement signed by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury on Friday and the document commits to most of the big items announced by the ACT Greens during their election campaign.

Under the plan, ACT Labor has agreed to begin construction of a light rail network for the territory by 2016. Mr Rattenbury said the agreement gave ''an ironclad'' commitment to the transport project, which would be funded as a public/private partnership and would ''transform'' the city.

''That's the good news for Canberrans,'' he said on Friday. ''Light rail will come to this city as a result of this agreement. Canberrans will see works commence during the course of this term of the assembly.''

Labor has also agreed to fund the Greens' $85 million plan to restore Canberra's lakes and catchments.

The agreement promises the construction of four new wetlands in Tuggeranong, Yarralumla and Ginninderra, funding for carp-reduction and willow-management programs and the establishment of a catchment management authority.


Ms Gallagher and Mr Rattenbury also signed off on their parties' shared commitment to implement the recommendations of the Gonski review of education funding and renewable energy targets of 90 per cent by 2020. Mr Rattenbury also negotiated support for the Greens' policy to have the territory's planning act reviewed to ensure developments were consistent with the ACT's 40 per cent greenhouse gas reduction target.

''Certainly the Greens went to the election with an extensive range of policies; not all of those are contained in the final agreement,'' he said.

''In some areas there was a crossover between the Labor Party and the Greens in the policies we've announced in very similar areas.

''We put forward a package that is affordable, it's fiscally responsible and the things we've agreed to were all fully costed by Treasury.''

In health, ACT Labor agreed to support the Greens' plan for mobile primary health clinics to help disadvantaged Canberrans and to work with other jurisdictions to ban junk food advertising during children's television-watching hours.

Both parties have also agreed that the new Assembly will legislate for marriage equality in the ACT.

''I think the Commonwealth Parliament has been incredibly short-sighted in blocking marriage equality in Australia,'' Mr Rattenbury said. ''This is about decency, it's about equality and it's about respect.''

Ms Gallagher said ACT Labor's policy vision was similar to that of the Greens in several areas.

''We would say we've been a green government already, we've had a very strong climate change agenda, a very strong environmental agenda - led primarily by Simon Corbell - and that has put us in a good position with the Greens … Being a green, progressive government is a badge we would wear with some pride.''