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The Barr government will feel the blowtorch of a federal parliamentary inquiry over the second stage of Canberra's light rail.
The Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories is set to inquire into and report on the development of stage two of the ACT's light rail, three months after Liberal Senator Zed Seselja said he would push for the project to be referred to a parliamentary committee.
Light rail stage two needs to be approved by both houses of federal parliament because the route crosses Commonwealth land as it travels from Civic to Woden.
That presented an opportunity for the joint standing committee to provide an extra layer of scrutiny for the project, one that was not able to be applied for light rail stage one, Senator Seselja told Fairfax Media in February.
ACT Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris said the territroy government would cooperate with the inquiry and she "welcomed the opportunity to again make the case for a city-wide light rail network in Canberra".
“Light rail will transform our city and deliver a faster, more convenient and more sustainable public transport option for Canberra into the future," she said.
“It is my hope that this inquiry will provide all stakeholders with clarity about the approvals process, how we can best protect and enhance the heritage values and national importance of the Parliamentary Zone, and ensure all parties have a shared understanding of the huge benefit light rail will have for people in Woden, the Inner South and Canberra more broadly.
“While I fully expect the Canberra Liberals and Zed Seselja to do everything in their power to oppose and criticise light rail through this process, I would urge them to remember that this should first and foremost be about how we plan for Canberra's growth, reduce congestion and enhance liveability."
According to the terms of reference, the inquiry will look at the relevant parliamentary approval processes for works within the Parliamentary zone; the roles of the National Capital Authority and the Australian government in the project; and the possible impacts on the parliamentary zone.
However the scope could be considerably broader than that, with the committee indicating it will identify "matters that may be of concern prior to formal parliamentary or Australian government consideration of the project" and "any other relevant matter the committee wishes to examine".
The committee is chaired by West Australian Liberal MP Ben Morton, but Labor MP and Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann is deputy chair.
Other members include Liberal politicians Jonathon Duniam, Julian Leeser, Sussan Ley and James Paterson; Labor's Sue Lines, Malarndirri McCarthy and Warren Snowdon, Lee Rhiannon of the Greens and Kevin Hogan from the Nationals.
Submissions close June 15.
Ms Brodtmann, Senator Seselja and the Canberra Liberals have been approached for comment.
You can make a submission here.
This article first appeared on www.canberratimes.com.au
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