23 September 2020

Campaign Trail: Canberra Hospital expansion shakeup, new schools and a Port for Canberra?

| Dominic Giannini
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Nick Kyrgios and budding tennis superstars

Schools and sports have been brought back onto the agenda as parties splash cash ahead of the election. Photo: Supplied.

On The Campaign Trail today, the Libs commit $120 million to cut elective surgery waiting times, Labor backs new schools and David Pollard pushes the Libs for a greater Gungahlin commitment.

The Canberra Liberals will pump $120 million into Canberra’s health system to halve elective surgery waiting times, hire 400 new health staff (including 200 nurses), and reconfigure the plans for the Canberra Hospital expansion.

The reconfiguration will move emergency vehicles access from Palmer Street to Yamba Drive and will not cause any delays to construction at Canberra Hospital, according to the Liberals.

An extra eight hybrid operating theatres will also be added to the expansion under the proposal as the party pledges to conduct 70,000 elective surgeries by 2024 – 16,000 more than the four years to 2019 and 10,000 more than what Labor has promised to deliver in the same term.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith called the plan unachievable, saying an estimated extra $60 million would be needed to reach that number of elective surgeries, and any changes to the expansion will push the project back, delaying jobs.

Labor splashes on Narrabundah College and a new school in West Belconnen

Labor has continued its education cash splash, building on its $99 million infrastructure fund and promising a $33 million upgrade and expansion for Narrabundah College.

The money will go towards the first stage of upgrades for the College. Construction will begin next year and be phased due to the busy nature of the school.

Consultation and planning for new and expanded schools in the Woden Valley and a new, $45 million zero-emissions primary school in Strathnairn, West Belconnen for around 600 students will also be undertaken if Labor is re-elected.

Pollard pokes Liberals to expand Gungahlin sports centre

Independent for Yerrabi David Pollard has called on the Canberra Liberals to expand their proposal for a sports centre in Gungahlin, potentially at the cost of a new centre in Tuggeranong.

The current centre proposed by the Liberals will cost $12.7 million and contain six indoor basketball courts and a large multipurpose space.

David Pollard

David Pollard has called on the Liberals to do more for Gungahlin. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

But Mr Pollard wants to see the $12.3 million earmarked for a sports facility in Tuggeranong put into the Gungahlin centre and expand it from four to eight courts, four or five indoor cricket nets and a larger selection on sports including wheelchair rugby.

“The problem is Gungahlin has been playing catch up from day one. For once, I would like to see us get ahead,” he told Region Media.

“The centre will be full from day one under the current proposal.”

READ MORE Libs pledge Gungahlin indoor sports complex, multicultural centre if elected

Canberra Racing Club to get gaming tax back under Libs

The Canberra Racing Club (CRC) will receive millions back from the ACT Government’s gaming tax under a Liberal Government, local media has reported.

A share of the 15 per cent tax on gaming company revenue in the ACT, as well as from bets made by Canberrans, will be given back to the company – worth around $2-3 million a year.

The Liberals did not publicise the announcement, but rather told the CRC it would change the current policy when responding to questions from the Club.

Greens pledge gas-free MCC

The Molonglo Commerical Centre, set to be developed from 2021-22, will be powered entirely by renewable energy under a new proposition from the Greens.

No gas will be used to power the centre which will contain a supermarket and retail development. In future, community facilities and other commercial and mixed-use development will be added.


The Federation Party wants the Port of Eden to become the Port for Canberra, opening it up as a major transport and tourism hub for the region.

“Multiple Cruise Lines have indicated that they are excited about the proposed rail link to Canberra Airport and beyond, as they can make the Port of Eden a dedicated segment port where passengers can join or alight cruise lines at Eden and have accessed the port via rail from Canberra Airport, Canberra and even as far afield as Sydney and beyond,” the Party said.

“With a close export port at Eden, Canberra can become an innovative manufacturing and export city.”

The Federation Party has not released costings for the proposal.

Proposed rail line

The rail line proposed by the Federation Party. Photo: Supplied.

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old canberran7:41 pm 24 Sep 20

I wonder if the Federation Party have considered asking the residents of Eden whether they would like to have their port become a port for Canberra. The ACT already has a port at Jervis Bay so use that and leave Eden alone.

An ongoing issue that has been consistently stagnated and hasn’t received much attention by the political parties is the situation with the main railway station in Canberra terminating remotely at Kingston instead of Canberra City (Civic). Extending the railway into Canberra CBD would be beneficial as it is more centrally located, providing an added incentive for tourists, visitors and commuters, and would revitalise the CBD and railway services with the potential for additional services and commuter services for suburban and outlying towns with increasing or forecasted growth, such as Bungendore.

It seems as though it is an infrastructure project that would be required to be completed eventually anyway, and would be beneficial post-virus and into the future for Canberra.

According to the ABC article “Why does the Sydney-Canberra train stop in Kingston and not the CBD?” from 24 July 2017 by Sonya Gee, Walter Burley Griffin had planned for a station to be built in Civic. The location of the current station at Kingston was a result of facilitating the transport of goods, building materials and coal, was not intended to be a passenger line, and that a temporary line towards the city built in 1920 had not survived and was flimsy.

Queanbeyanite8:12 pm 24 Sep 20

Not until the local council has built apartments on every square metre of land in the ACT.

the liberals are living in cloud cuckoo land with their promises. so if i understand correctly they are going to freeze rates and charges, but increase spending in a whole host of areas without blowing out the debt? all this is supposed to be paid for by dramatically increasing Canberra’s population (which is presumably going to bring only revenue but no additional costs?). and now they are going to cut waiting lists because the cost of living is so cheap that all the specialist staff are going to flock to Canberra. Have I missed anything? my four year old has better accounting skills than this

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