Inevitable that light rail will be built: Smith

Former Federal defence minister Stephen Smith addresses the National Trust.
Former Federal defence minister Stephen Smith addresses the National Trust.

Mr Smith discussed the current state of Western Australia’s infrastructure, taking the opportunity to criticise the WA State Government for postponing the MAX Light Rail.

‘I think its short-sighted, and the reality is, given the growth of the population, growth of our economic capability, it just makes sense that we are going to have to do things that are less car dependent,’ Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith spoke of the legacy of engineer C Y O’Connor and the importance of pursuing large infrastructure projects, citing WA’s desalination plants and his governments National Broadband Network.

He pointed out that Perth had dropped from fourth to ninth in the list of Australia’s most liveable cities, blaming traffic congestion as a major contributor to the decline.

‘The solution to Perth’s traffic congestion cannot simply be to build more and bigger roads, which can act simply as a magnet for more cars,’ he said.

The former MHR pointed out that large projects often attracted opposition, but encouraged Australia and WA to not shy away from the opportunity to embark on nation-building projects.

Mr Smith said although he was disappointed the State Government had delayed the light rail project, it was inevitable it would be built in the near future.

‘While it is regrettable they’ve essentially put it on the backburner, while there might be in the future arguments about the detail and the route and the track, it’s also in my view inevitable’