On why Labor might have blown the election with Capital Metro

By 22 September, 2012 33

Yesterday Simon Corbell and Katy Gallagher surprised everyone by jumping onto the light rail trolleycar.

This made a lot of people very happy, but I’ve got a feeling it’s going to blow up horrendously in Labor’s faces.

To explain let’s go back to the electoral map.

Most pundits see the seven seat Molonglo electorate as being essentially out of play. Unless something big happens it’s likely to split three Labor, three Liberal, and one Green.

This light rail proposal is going to blow $600 million entirely within Molonglo without changing that much.

It also says to the voters of Gungahlin “everyone else gets to drive around in cars but you have to cram into a tram”. In the Inner North and South we largely long to see trams down the long vacant median strips. The mcmansion builders do not, on the whole, share that aspiration.

But out in the battleground electorates of Brindabella and Ginninderra the whole proposal shrieks “we don’t give a stuff about you”.

Promises of maybe extending the lines to them in 20 years time are unlikely to cut much ice.

It gets worse for Labor though.

First there’s the cynicism of announcing work might start in 2016.

Announce it for this election, start it for next election, open it the election after. We just have to keep voting these guys back into power for 12 years to actually get anything done? Seriously?

Do they think we’ve forgotten the interminable Gungahlin Pool?

And while we’re on credibility, we’ve had Simon Corbell for years banging on about how we couldn’t afford light rail and his busways were a better idea.

Then yesterday the Orwellian reveal and it turns out we’ve been in favour of rail all along?

“Yippee for Light Rail, it’s totally affordable, I never waved a consultant’s report around showing it would be ruinously costly”.

It’s just not a good look.

Worse it won’t play well where it matters.

With increased rates notices going out and the Cotter Dam cost blowouts on the mind of all those ratepayers, while Actew Water proposes big price increases, it’s pretty much Christmas Day for the Liberals.

This really is the best chance they’re going to get for a generation.

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33 Responses to On why Labor might have blown the election with Capital Metro
#1
Masquara12:31 pm, 22 Sep 12

This may be a relevant point about light rail: rail doesn’t stop every couple of hundred metres, the way the buses do. I wouldn’t want to walk 600 or more metres from a rail stop. On the other hand, if they have as many rail stops as bus stops, that would create hassle and havoc for everyone and everything – infrastructure, pedestrians, traffic, trucks, buses – and of course the sacrificed trees. Plus the goodly bogans of Gungahlin have expressed clearly to government that they want to DRIVE. Attempting to palliate the O’Connor greenies (who don’t seem to use public transport, interestingly) with promises of light rail for the peasants will inevitably create a white elephant.

#2
rosscoact1:01 pm, 22 Sep 12

On one hand we have the ‘don’t believe it’ crew, on the other hand we have ‘we’ll be rooned’ crew. Now we have to grow a third hand for the ‘bad political move’ crew.

If we’re doing a Vishnu we shouldn’t forget the ‘totally irrelevant for most people’ arm.

#3
c_c1:34 pm, 22 Sep 12

Long form articles and analysis on the RiotACT… this is new, bet the Crimes is carping itself more now – or giving cut and paste a work out.

Anyway to the issue: Brindabella was screwed the minute they decided in the early 90s they would only finish half of Tuggeranong and never build the rest. The announcement about new infill to boost the population is a direct attempt at a remedy for this. I think Brindabella residents are used to it by now, and I don’t think the light rail is really going to factor into their decision.

I though more damaging was the Greens completely ignoring Brindabella and the Libs announcing that residents’ votes can be bought with a pool Both very weak compared to Labor announcing a CIT campus, which regardless of the practicality, is a good vaccination against accusations of not caring.

There’s also the circuit breaker that came with Jon Stanhope leaving. Voters in Canberra to tend to lean progressive, so giving them a choice between a centre-left party led by a young career woman, and a far left party led by middle age professionals vs the stodgy, male dominated Libs in the pocket of big business and led by a deeply religious conservative whose only community activity is fundraising for his boys only private school won’t easily sway them.

I agree with what you say overall JB that this is the best opportunity they Liberals have had for a generation, but I also think it will turn out to be one they’ve squandered and thrown away. Best thing they could have done was overhaul their brand and change leader mid term.

#4
Deref1:42 pm, 22 Sep 12

If these people aren’t smoking crack, perhaps they need to.

What a ludicrous decision – spending $600M (hah – don’t make me laugh) on another piece of public transport infrastructure of the most inherently inflexible kind that will be used, if at all, by a tiny number of people for brief periods in the mornings and afternoons while creating more traffic chaos on Northbourne Ave (what happens with cross-traffic at traffic lights? How do pedestrians get to and from the tram stops – more traffic lights on Northbourne?) without substantively reducing the existing traffic.

Even Sydney, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook recognised that an elevated monorail would eliminate the cross-traffic problem.

Of course putting the start date a few years into the future gives them the opportunity to tell us, in the future, that circumstances have changed and it’s no longer practical – or some such drivel.

#5
Thumper1:58 pm, 22 Sep 12

Don’t mention the pool.

#6
miz3:42 pm, 22 Sep 12

Astute insights Johnboy.

Labor must certainly be worried to change their tune about light rail so suddenly. I imagine they needed something big to ‘cut through’ like the Liberals’ rates slogan!

I have been quietly musing how far things have swung. Perhaps it’s just me? but I used to be quite a ‘rusted on’ Labor person. I don’t see myself as that anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still a paid up member of a union, and firmly believe in egalitarianism and the concept of government for all its constituents (not just the wealthy few). However, this local election, Lab and Lib seem to have almost completely swapped their traditional ethoses (if that’s a word). Labor seems to be pandering to wealthy inner north enviro-leaning constituents, and appears to have completely forgotten the middle-lower classes/working poor in the poorly-serviced ‘burbs. Conversely, Lib is playing directly to the middle-lower classes/working poor by focusing on rates, water bills and green bins (i.e. improvements to, and better value from, services that are in Canberrans’ faces every day – which is what we want from a local govt). If Lib does get in it is going to have to be very very diligent in maintaining its focus on local services, or they won’t get another chance for a long long time. This might be a difficult task, as Lib has a reputation for the ‘slash and burn’ style of govt (reinforced of late by Newman and O’Farrell).
It is certainly an interesting election this time around.

#7
poetix5:26 pm, 22 Sep 12

Thumper said :

Don’t mention the pool.

Doing laps in an interminable pool must be tiring…(-:

miz said :

Astute insights Johnboy.

Labor must certainly be worried to change their tune about light rail so suddenly. I imagine they needed something big to ‘cut through’ like the Liberals’ rates slogan!

I have been quietly musing how far things have swung. Perhaps it’s just me? but I used to be quite a ‘rusted on’ Labor person. I don’t see myself as that anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still a paid up member of a union, and firmly believe in egalitarianism and the concept of government for all its constituents (not just the wealthy few). However, this local election, Lab and Lib seem to have almost completely swapped their traditional ethoses (if that’s a word). Labor seems to be pandering to wealthy inner north enviro-leaning constituents, and appears to have completely forgotten the middle-lower classes/working poor in the poorly-serviced ‘burbs. Conversely, Lib is playing directly to the middle-lower classes/working poor by focusing on rates, water bills and green bins (i.e. improvements to, and better value from, services that are in Canberrans’ faces every day – which is what we want from a local govt). If Lib does get in it is going to have to be very very diligent in maintaining its focus on local services, or they won’t get another chance for a long long time. This might be a difficult task, as Lib has a reputation for the ‘slash and burn’ style of govt (reinforced of late by Newman and O’Farrell).
It is certainly an interesting election this time around.

You opposed a scheme to house some of the most vulnerable members of society (homeless youth) totally on NIMBY reasons. Seems to me that you should be voting Liberal. Fortunately I am not drinking, or I would have lost a mouthful of wine over your self-proclaimed ‘egalitarianism’.

If that makes me an ‘inner north enviro-leaning constituent’, then I’m proud to be one.

#8
Darkfalz6:16 pm, 22 Sep 12

Should have been a design consideration for the city from a start. Tacking it on now is going to be a mess.

Question, does this rail require those eyesore overhead cables like Melbourne?

#9
c_c6:25 pm, 22 Sep 12

Darkfalz said :

Should have been a design consideration for the city from a start. Tacking it on now is going to be a mess.

Question, does this rail require those eyesore overhead cables like Melbourne?

It was planned from the beginning for FS.

That’s why there are large green belts beside and in the middle of major arterial routes around Canberra.

Rail transport has always been part of Canberra’s plan and Canberra was built to allow for it.

#10
DJ Mac7:05 pm, 22 Sep 12

I am sick and tired of the bloody “investigation into” crap, just build the bloody thing. It was originally planned for Canberra to have light rail between the city centres, having the buses going around the suburbs then into the centres. It actually makes sense – light rail is designed to go realitively long distances without stopping, and buses are designed to stop and start. The centres like Gungahlin, Belconnen, Civic, Woden, Tuggeranong are unlikely to change in a hurry. Just get on with it and give us a half way decent public transport system. Not everyone can or wants to drive everywhere.

I will vote for anyone who stops the “studies” on every single thing (things that have been done to death – I mean how many studies/inquires have we had into this so far?) and just gets on with the job!

#11
Innovation7:16 pm, 22 Sep 12

I don’t know whether they have blown it or not – the alternative is a bit disheartening – but the timing and scope of this announcement certainly reeks of desperation.

#12
davesact7:16 pm, 22 Sep 12

One of the original Canberra plans had provision for a Zeppelin docking station. I think its an election winner.

#13
Walker8:26 pm, 22 Sep 12

Deref said :

Even Sydney, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook recognised that an elevated monorail would eliminate the cross-traffic problem.

Ah north haverbrook… here you go.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEZjzsnPhnw

#14
troll-sniffer8:42 pm, 22 Sep 12

Oh yeah, Canberra, home of the unimaginative, sadly once again confirmed.

Mannheim in Germany has a light rail link almost exactly of the style as proposed for Canberra. How does it work? Brilliantly. Patronage? Excellent. Convenience? Excellent. Comfort etc? Excellent.

And since when did it become a case of my electorate vs your electorate for necessary infrastructure decisions in Canberra. What a ridiculous and divisive concept.

#15
SnapperJack1:53 am, 23 Sep 12

If I recall correctly, there was a TV show of some description where some spiv comes to town spruiking a monorail as a wonderful concept and he manages to whip everybody up into a fervor of enthusiasm. The citizens of the town sing a song lauding the monorail and are brainwashed into believing in it.

The fact that it is expensive, not viable and a selfish indulgence pushed by an obese, smooth-talking conman regularly appearing in the media is lost on everybody. I can’t recall how the show ended but I’m pretty sure everybody finally comes to their senses and the whole stupid concept is dumped and everybody wonders why they were so badly led up the garden path by the idea in the first place.

Let’s hope that happens in real life here in Canberra and we are never burdened with a massive white elephant which will be hugely expensive, under utilised and cursed by future generations.

#16
sharedawealth7:14 am, 23 Sep 12

I could not think of a worst person to deliver a a major project than Simon Corbell. If he is in charge of building the light rail it is guaranteed to be late, way over Budget and not suitable for purpose. I hope people remember what a farce the construction of Gunghalin Drive was.

#17
johnboy8:51 am, 23 Sep 12

And Snapperjack loses the game.

If you can’t get a Simpsons reference right please step away from the keyboard

#18
Truthiness9:12 am, 23 Sep 12

Its Lyle Lanley’s law. As any discussion about light rail in Canberra grows longer, the probability of someone singing the monorail song approach 1.

#19
JC9:12 am, 23 Sep 12

Deref said :

If these people aren’t smoking crack, perhaps they need to.

What a ludicrous decision – spending $600M (hah – don’t make me laugh) on another piece of public transport infrastructure of the most inherently inflexible kind that will be used, if at all, by a tiny number of people for brief periods in the mornings and afternoons while creating more traffic chaos on Northbourne Ave (what happens with cross-traffic at traffic lights? How do pedestrians get to and from the tram stops – more traffic lights on Northbourne?) without substantively reducing the existing traffic.

Why would cross traffic be effected? The tram running down the centre would be on the same phase as traffic flowing along Northborne. Vehicles wanting to cross or turn would use the existing lights. Same too with pedestrians getting into the medium strip, there are already traffic lights at regular intervals that have pedestrian lights incorporated.

#20
JC9:17 am, 23 Sep 12

DJ Mac said :

I am sick and tired of the bloody “investigation into” crap, just build the bloody thing. It was originally planned for Canberra to have light rail between the city centres, having the buses going around the suburbs then into the centres. It actually makes sense – light rail is designed to go realitively long distances without stopping, and buses are designed to stop and start. The centres like Gungahlin, Belconnen, Civic, Woden, Tuggeranong are unlikely to change in a hurry. Just get on with it and give us a half way decent public transport system. Not everyone can or wants to drive everywhere.

Actually that’s not quite true. Trams were an integral part of Burley Griffins design, however his design did not extend to what we now know as the town centres and when they were designed they were not designed with light rail or trams in mind, though yes the medium strip width for the most part is wide enough.

But do agree it is time to build it, but to Gungahlin only. Light rail is not for long intertown routes as you mention it is for routes along more densely populate corridors where you need a larger capacity vehicle. Northborne Ave and Flemmington road being such a route. Belconnen Way or Adelaide Ave are not such a route.

#21
johnboy9:19 am, 23 Sep 12
#22
bundah9:33 am, 23 Sep 12

So it really is the case that the Simpsons have been running this town since the Bicentennary!

#23
Holden Caulfield9:52 am, 23 Sep 12

davesact said :

One of the original Canberra plans had provision for a Zeppelin docking station. I think its an election winner.

I’d vote for it. If only we could find a sustainable supply of hot air.

#24
switch10:16 am, 23 Sep 12

Holden Caulfield said :

I’d vote for it. If only we could find a sustainable supply of hot air.

Capitol Hill? Plenty of hot air blowing there.

#25
poetix11:20 am, 23 Sep 12

davesact said :

One of the original Canberra plans had provision for a Zeppelin docking station. I think its an election winner.

Oh, the humanity!

#26
steveu11:49 am, 23 Sep 12

sharedawealth said :

I could not think of a worst person to deliver a a major project than Simon Corbell. If he is in charge of building the light rail it is guaranteed to be late, way over Budget and not suitable for purpose. I hope people remember what a farce the construction of Gunghalin Drive was.

Dont worry, we do, and will be a long time before we forget.
and post #14- troll-sniffer : I agree, its pathetic that the politicians have become so blatantly obvious that they have even bothered trying to conceal which electoral demographic groups they are buying votes from. How about focusing on your job? The lot of you have been talking about fixing public transport issues for decades, theres been a couple of elections since then and you have done f@ck all except talk about what you might do, in the future, if you get elected again.

#27
Masquara12:31 pm, 23 Sep 12

troll-sniffer said :

Mannheim in Germany has a light rail link almost exactly of the style as proposed for Canberra. How does it work? Brilliantly. Patronage? Excellent. Convenience? Excellent. Comfort etc? Excellent.

Mannheim “in Germany” is the operative expression here. Canberra shares NO urban values with anywhere in Europe. Transport-wise, we are culturally American. So if you think cultural change can be effected in less than two or three generations without a fascist government, you are wrong, sorry. Because profound cultural change would be needed.
Speaking as a typical inner-inner north resident who owns a spiffy light bicycle but drives EVERYWHERE and has not used any form of public transport in more than a decade. Sorry.

#28
JessP1:23 pm, 23 Sep 12

The smell of desperation is thick in the air…..

#29
pepmeup6:53 pm, 23 Sep 12

JC said :

Deref said :

If these people aren’t smoking crack, perhaps they need to.

What a ludicrous decision – spending $600M (hah – don’t make me laugh) on another piece of public transport infrastructure of the most inherently inflexible kind that will be used, if at all, by a tiny number of people for brief periods in the mornings and afternoons while creating more traffic chaos on Northbourne Ave (what happens with cross-traffic at traffic lights? How do pedestrians get to and from the tram stops – more traffic lights on Northbourne?) without substantively reducing the existing traffic.

Why would cross traffic be effected? The tram running down the centre would be on the same phase as traffic flowing along Northborne. Vehicles wanting to cross or turn would use the existing lights. Same too with pedestrians getting into the medium strip, there are already traffic lights at regular intervals that have pedestrian lights incorporated.

Ok what about where cars wait in the middle of northbourne like, murdoch st, morphett st, and the entries to the netball centre and yowani gulf club.

You should see northbourne about the netball centre on a Saturday morning

Also same issue on Flemington where traffic joins from randwick rd.

They all seem small but will ad to traffic, like cars wanting to head in to Dickson coming north up Northbourne would have been able to turn onto Morphett but now will have to travel upto Antill and that intersection does not need extra traffic

#30
bryansworld5:59 am, 24 Sep 12

Masquara said :

troll-sniffer said :

Mannheim in Germany has a light rail link almost exactly of the style as proposed for Canberra. How does it work? Brilliantly. Patronage? Excellent. Convenience? Excellent. Comfort etc? Excellent.

Mannheim “in Germany” is the operative expression here. Canberra shares NO urban values with anywhere in Europe. Transport-wise, we are culturally American. So if you think cultural change can be effected in less than two or three generations without a fascist government, you are wrong, sorry. Because profound cultural change would be needed.
Speaking as a typical inner-inner north resident who owns a spiffy light bicycle but drives EVERYWHERE and has not used any form of public transport in more than a decade. Sorry.

Do yourself a favour. Ride your bike more!

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