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Capital Metro endorsed by Cabinet – light rail is a go!

By Damien Haas 15 September 2014 142

I was in the room for the Capital Metro Industry Briefing at the National Convention Centre this morning when Simon Corbell, Capital Metro Agency Minister, announced that the business case for Capital Metro had been endorsed by Cabinet, and the project approved.

Total cost – 783 million dollars.

Construction will begin in 2016 with service expected to begin in 2019/20.

EOI’s will be called for on 31 October, when the full business case will also be released.

This is such wonderful news for the future of Canberra.

A full report is at ACT Light Rails website.

http://www.actlightrail.info/2014/09/act-government-endorse-capital-metro.html

Damien Haas
Chair, ACT Light Rail


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Capital Metro endorsed by Cabinet – light rail is a go!
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dungfungus 10:26 am 27 Oct 14

miz said :

I understand perfectly the difference between fed and local. I am not an eejit.
Nor will I ever forget the closure of schools under either the Libs or Labor. Both were unbelievably short sighted and devastating. In particular, the Lib closures decimated Weston Creek for years (sealing its fate as a place for older persons as there are now fewer schools for growing families looking for a suburb to move into). My own children’s school was under threat by the Labor closures and their incorrect statistics.
I am highly cynical of both sides of ACT politics, given that they both essentially do what they like, pretend to consult, and are beholden to developers instead of ratepayers. It is disgusting and contemptuous of the electorate.
However, you have to understand, Kate Carnell’s government cast a long shadow. She created a user pays nightmare for many people, including me (I was a sole parent in those days – it was a very difficult period and a time I will never forget – my children and I bear significant mental and emotional scars from the Howard/Carnell years, which were horrible, just horrible). This article is a good summary of what people are concerned about.
http://www.crikey.com.au/2002/09/09/the-rare-highs-and-many-lows-of-kate-carnell/
For good or for ill, despite this local crowd clearly having all the hallmarks of being in too long, Labor are generally perceived a being ‘for the people’ whereas Liberal is perceived as being ‘for business’ (i.e. privileging money over the public good – you know, the now-discredited ‘trickle down’ theory which justifies propping up business and not helping anyone else). This is why Labor do not do great when they try to be claytons Liberals.
All I am suggesting is that the local Liberals make it clear they are more interested in being fair to the ACT people and maintaining the public good, rather than being simply about money and private interests. For instance, the light rail proposal is daft on many levels, not simply economics – it is also about being a good steward of what we already have (buses and good roads), being honest and realistic about our capabilities (we are a small town, we are not Sydney/Melbourne, we have low density), and being even handed to all Canberrans (not just a pork barrelling exercise for a small, rather wealthy part of Canberra).
It’s obvious really – if the local Libs were able to make a stand for the public good convincingly, they would garner support from those Canberrans who are willing to be persuaded but have residual concerns about the excesses of Liberal-style (really USA style free market) economics, as evidenced by the feds. Unfortunately for the local LIbs, the feds are proving themselves not only to be terrible for Australia but they are hurting Canberra as if were personal. Remember, Canberrans work for them, and know exactly what they are like. Therefore, the locals should try to distinguish themselves. I am simply giving them a recipe. I have been right about these things before (not that anyone ever listens, but that’s their problem, not mine). It is likely that the business /developer backers they want to woo (for funds) will not be happy with such an approach. I say to that, do they want to be in government, or not?

The story that Crikey relates appears factual but they go overboard on hate.
Carnell has done nothing that her Labor successors haven’t also done. There are several joint ventures between the current Labor/Green minority government and land development companies. The association with developers is putrid as revealed by the Canberra Times yesterday. Labor are more involved with “business” than the Liberals have ever been. Read the article.
Regarding Carnell’s road accident, while she had been drinking there were no charges ensuing.
At least two Labor politicians living in Canberra have been charged with drink driving offences in the past 30 years.
ACT Labor leaders have also ventured into personal, pet projects similar to ones that Carnell initiated and her efforts to get the Bruce Stadium functional for the Sydney Olympic games on the “build it and they will come” principle was probably the worst in terms of wasted money followed closely by the futsal slab which has at least proved multifunctional as a circus stage and a car park.
Of course, the $23 million that Andrew Barr has committed to sponsoring a football team in Sydney is just as crazy but Crikey haven’t written about that, have they?.
We should not forget that Carnell was single-handedly tenacious in getting Federal funding for the duplication of the Federal Highway into Canberra which was a massive achievement that we all now take for granted.
What progress has Labor made in duplicating the Barton Highway in the past 12 years?
Regarding the light rail, of all the opinions put forward so far, Carnell’s was by far the most informed and clearly the best by someone with no vested interest.
I wasn’t aware that she introduced “user pays” to the ACT that specifically punished you and your family but the same principles have been carried on by Labor and I doubt whether any of the current “user pays” services would benefit you to the detriment of others.
I was hoping you would have more information on how ACTEW could be made into a cooperative but I am now seeing it was just another socialist thought bubble.

miz 10:07 pm 26 Oct 14

I understand perfectly the difference between fed and local. I am not an eejit.
Nor will I ever forget the closure of schools under either the Libs or Labor. Both were unbelievably short sighted and devastating. In particular, the Lib closures decimated Weston Creek for years (sealing its fate as a place for older persons as there are now fewer schools for growing families looking for a suburb to move into). My own children’s school was under threat by the Labor closures and their incorrect statistics.
I am highly cynical of both sides of ACT politics, given that they both essentially do what they like, pretend to consult, and are beholden to developers instead of ratepayers. It is disgusting and contemptuous of the electorate.
However, you have to understand, Kate Carnell’s government cast a long shadow. She created a user pays nightmare for many people, including me (I was a sole parent in those days – it was a very difficult period and a time I will never forget – my children and I bear significant mental and emotional scars from the Howard/Carnell years, which were horrible, just horrible). This article is a good summary of what people are concerned about.
http://www.crikey.com.au/2002/09/09/the-rare-highs-and-many-lows-of-kate-carnell/
For good or for ill, despite this local crowd clearly having all the hallmarks of being in too long, Labor are generally perceived a being ‘for the people’ whereas Liberal is perceived as being ‘for business’ (i.e. privileging money over the public good – you know, the now-discredited ‘trickle down’ theory which justifies propping up business and not helping anyone else). This is why Labor do not do great when they try to be claytons Liberals.
All I am suggesting is that the local Liberals make it clear they are more interested in being fair to the ACT people and maintaining the public good, rather than being simply about money and private interests. For instance, the light rail proposal is daft on many levels, not simply economics – it is also about being a good steward of what we already have (buses and good roads), being honest and realistic about our capabilities (we are a small town, we are not Sydney/Melbourne, we have low density), and being even handed to all Canberrans (not just a pork barrelling exercise for a small, rather wealthy part of Canberra).
It’s obvious really – if the local Libs were able to make a stand for the public good convincingly, they would garner support from those Canberrans who are willing to be persuaded but have residual concerns about the excesses of Liberal-style (really USA style free market) economics, as evidenced by the feds. Unfortunately for the local LIbs, the feds are proving themselves not only to be terrible for Australia but they are hurting Canberra as if were personal. Remember, Canberrans work for them, and know exactly what they are like. Therefore, the locals should try to distinguish themselves. I am simply giving them a recipe. I have been right about these things before (not that anyone ever listens, but that’s their problem, not mine). It is likely that the business /developer backers they want to woo (for funds) will not be happy with such an approach. I say to that, do they want to be in government, or not?

dungfungus 6:31 pm 26 Oct 14

miz said :

Dungfungus, i’s all about WHAT you flog off – and unfortunately for the Liberals, they did sell a lot of important stuff off, closed schools, etc etc, when they were last in government and Canberrans are generally politically savvy and have long memories.
It’s about perception control. Yes I agree, local Labor/Green has also been similarly stupid about, (for instance) closing schools they now need, poor development proposals/decisions such as light rail etc, which is why it is clear they have been in too long and it’s time for a change. However, the feds do not help the local Liberals’ cause, so some assurance would go a long way to securing additional votes that would tip it enough to secure a definitive result. I am one of these people.
re ACTTAB – I couldn’t care less about that sell off as the government should not be involved in gambling at all in my view, so good riddance. However, essential services and utilities eg water, health services, schools are ‘public good’ operations which should be kept in public hands to maintain them as ongoing investments (not always quantified by $$, BTW). This is why, in the federal sphere, it is a big mistake to run down Medicare, sell Medibank Private, to have sold Telstra, etc. The economic tide has turned on the privatisation concept big time.
Regarding ACTEW, it already belongs to us, the ACT people. I personally believe that it should actually operate more like a cooperative, not a profit making concern. It undoubtedly could do with some seriously better management, but I note that most of our unease about it stems from its ‘corporate’ behaviour such as inappropriate corporate bonuses. However, it does not automatically follow that ACTEW should be sold off. IMO governments should, for security reasons, remain in complete control of major public assets such as utilities, and it is incredibly ‘short term’ to sell assets off for a bottom line problem.

You are mixing Territory and Federal “sell-offs”. Let’s just deal with the ACT.
It’s been so long since the Liberals were in power in the ACT I have honestly forgotten what they sold off and how many schools the closed even though I think I am politically savvy and have a long memory.
Would you please refresh my memory accordingly, with examples, links etc?.
I have never considered that ACTEW could function as a cooperative and there may be regulations preventing this. I can’t see it working but I am open to hearing other opinions.

miz 9:44 am 26 Oct 14

Dungfungus, i’s all about WHAT you flog off – and unfortunately for the Liberals, they did sell a lot of important stuff off, closed schools, etc etc, when they were last in government and Canberrans are generally politically savvy and have long memories.
It’s about perception control. Yes I agree, local Labor/Green has also been similarly stupid about, (for instance) closing schools they now need, poor development proposals/decisions such as light rail etc, which is why it is clear they have been in too long and it’s time for a change. However, the feds do not help the local Liberals’ cause, so some assurance would go a long way to securing additional votes that would tip it enough to secure a definitive result. I am one of these people.
re ACTTAB – I couldn’t care less about that sell off as the government should not be involved in gambling at all in my view, so good riddance. However, essential services and utilities eg water, health services, schools are ‘public good’ operations which should be kept in public hands to maintain them as ongoing investments (not always quantified by $$, BTW). This is why, in the federal sphere, it is a big mistake to run down Medicare, sell Medibank Private, to have sold Telstra, etc. The economic tide has turned on the privatisation concept big time.
Regarding ACTEW, it already belongs to us, the ACT people. I personally believe that it should actually operate more like a cooperative, not a profit making concern. It undoubtedly could do with some seriously better management, but I note that most of our unease about it stems from its ‘corporate’ behaviour such as inappropriate corporate bonuses. However, it does not automatically follow that ACTEW should be sold off. IMO governments should, for security reasons, remain in complete control of major public assets such as utilities, and it is incredibly ‘short term’ to sell assets off for a bottom line problem.

dungfungus 12:10 pm 21 Oct 14

mcs said :

dungfungus said :

miz said :

IMO the ACT Libs will be a shoe-in if, in addition to getting rid of light rail, they promise not to go on a privatisation/sell off blitz of things that belong to the people (this is what people detest about the Libs – they give the distinct impression they are more interested in money and business than people and society).

Err, the last sell off a public asset was ACTAB, last month.
I think that was the decision of the ACT Labor minority government so don’t automatically accuse the libs who are more interested in value for money and fostering business which will benefit people and society more than creation of phony public service jobs and asbestos compensation handouts.
The only thing the Canberra Liberals have spoken about selling off is Actew. If it were done 15 years ago under the Carnell government it would have saved the Territory hundreds of millions of dollars.

Surely dungfungus you can see that, no matter who is in power, there is little reasonable reason for ACTTAB to be government owned. Should have been sold a long time ago.

And how would selling off ACTEW have saved the Territory hundreds of millions of dollars? We will get rorted by ACTEW/ACTEWAGL/Whatever version of it you want, whether its government owned or privatised, as in the end they are essential services being provided which are regulated to some degree, under a regulatory system that is pretty much busted.

I agree ACTAB should have been sold long ago but which party has been in power for the last 14 years? I mean, how long do Labor need and how many frauds did they need to decide to flog it?
And if ACTEW was sold 15 years ago we would have saved at least $60 million on the Transact debacle, probably about the same on the Better Place disaster so there is over $100 million to start with. Then there are the hugely inflated executive salaries that would be eliminated etc.
I don’t suggest that ACTEW should be privatised either – it should be sold to an existing national energy supplier like Origin who are already offering up to 14% discounts on electricty and 8% of gas.

mcs 11:09 am 21 Oct 14

dungfungus said :

miz said :

IMO the ACT Libs will be a shoe-in if, in addition to getting rid of light rail, they promise not to go on a privatisation/sell off blitz of things that belong to the people (this is what people detest about the Libs – they give the distinct impression they are more interested in money and business than people and society).

Err, the last sell off a public asset was ACTAB, last month.
I think that was the decision of the ACT Labor minority government so don’t automatically accuse the libs who are more interested in value for money and fostering business which will benefit people and society more than creation of phony public service jobs and asbestos compensation handouts.
The only thing the Canberra Liberals have spoken about selling off is Actew. If it were done 15 years ago under the Carnell government it would have saved the Territory hundreds of millions of dollars.

Surely dungfungus you can see that, no matter who is in power, there is little reasonable reason for ACTTAB to be government owned. Should have been sold a long time ago.

And how would selling off ACTEW have saved the Territory hundreds of millions of dollars? We will get rorted by ACTEW/ACTEWAGL/Whatever version of it you want, whether its government owned or privatised, as in the end they are essential services being provided which are regulated to some degree, under a regulatory system that is pretty much busted.

dungfungus 8:56 am 21 Oct 14

miz said :

IMO the ACT Libs will be a shoe-in if, in addition to getting rid of light rail, they promise not to go on a privatisation/sell off blitz of things that belong to the people (this is what people detest about the Libs – they give the distinct impression they are more interested in money and business than people and society).

Err, the last sell off a public asset was ACTAB, last month.
I think that was the decision of the ACT Labor minority government so don’t automatically accuse the libs who are more interested in value for money and fostering business which will benefit people and society more than creation of phony public service jobs and asbestos compensation handouts.
The only thing the Canberra Liberals have spoken about selling off is Actew. If it were done 15 years ago under the Carnell government it would have saved the Territory hundreds of millions of dollars.

miz 7:20 am 21 Oct 14

IMO the ACT Libs will be a shoe-in if, in addition to getting rid of light rail, they promise not to go on a privatisation/sell off blitz of things that belong to the people (this is what people detest about the Libs – they give the distinct impression they are more interested in money and business than people and society).

Redrider 7:58 pm 20 Oct 14

I fully support ACT light rail. Only trouble is they should not have started to triple the rates until they built it.
Don’t worry if you feel you are being forced out of your car. You will always be able to pay a fee for it being stored while it is not in use.
However, I have no confidence from what I have so far that this mob could deliver a sensible light rail system.

rommeldog56 7:32 pm 20 Oct 14

farnarkler said :

So Jeremy Hanson has come out and said he will do everything to stop light rail. Problem is, and this was not mentioned in the CT article, Labor has already spent X millions of $ with consultants, etc. Is Jeremy just going to accept that loss or will he claw back those millions already spent through some other way?

Not that I have any faith in the ACT Liberals either, btw. But, I suppose if the Business Case is in fact “positive” in economic terms, then unless that Business Case is fatally flawed, why would they stop it ?

If contracts are signed before the next election, then it is very highly unlikely it can or will be stopped anyway.

If it were stopped, then the $ spent up to that point would be regarded in economic terms as a “sunk cost” ie. written off. Maybe better that than ongoing subsidisation by ACT Ratepayers year after year after year, I suppose. A better course of action would be to shelve it until the ACTs economic and fiscal situation improves. That way, the sunk costs won’t appear as wasted taxpayer money.

farnarkler 6:06 pm 20 Oct 14

So Jeremy Hanson has come out and said he will do everything to stop light rail. Problem is, and this was not mentioned in the CT article, Labor has already spent X millions of $ with consultants, etc. Is Jeremy just going to accept that loss or will he claw back those millions already spent through some other way?

rommeldog56 6:01 pm 20 Oct 14

house_husband said :

Antagonist said :

farnarkler said :

Can anyone explain why we need light rail?

In short, it is to fill an election promise that Labor and Mayor Rattenbury stole from another minor party to secure the votes they needed to form a minority government.

Bingo. And this is why the whole light rail situation is a farce.

It was never an option that came out of a comprehensive assessment of our public transport options. It is one of several ideas being thrown around the Greens got all excited about in the absence of any serious costings. They then saw a chance to force it on to us by appealing to a politician’s most basest of instincts, the desire to be in power.

What we will now get is a business case that is made to fit the outcome so that Labor can build their train set, appease the Greens and hold onto power.

Correct re the Business Case. Rattenburry was on 2CC late this afternoon saying that the Business Case is indeed “positive”. Like, what a surprise !

I can hear the sound of furious tapping on Government keyboards by Canberra Metro staff and Gov’t spin doctors to make it so………

HiddenDragon 5:53 pm 20 Oct 14

These guys are on the case, in a refreshingly rational way:

http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2014/10/light-rail-divides-the-nations-capital/

This very insightful comment (not, I repeat, not made by me under a different blogonym) is worth repeating in full:

“Road investments do not concentrate economic rent like rail ones. This is because the total potential number of trip origins and destinations that benefit from a road investment is exponentially higher than that for a rail route.
This fetish for rails would not exist if it was not for the rentier-gouge opportunities. There will be a certain amount of ideological support that on its own would not be sufficient.
“Progressives love railroads and hate cars, and that is not without a political dimension. Railroads tell you where to go, which is very appealing if you see society as one big factory to be subjected to (your) expert management. And that’s really the basic question of liberalism in the better, classical sense of the word: Is the state here to tell you where to go, or is it here to help you get where you are going? And how to get there?”
— Kevin D. Williamson, “Planes, Trains, and the Internet,” National Review Online, July 15, 2014
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/382732/planes-trains-and-internet-kevin-d-williamson

To all that has hitherto been said against the trams, the Government’s response to recent reports of dim prospects for the ACT economy illustrates the mentality at work – “something” needs to be done – this is “something” – let’s do it!

gazket 4:36 pm 20 Oct 14

will the trains service life end before the network is paid off ?

house_husband 12:43 pm 20 Oct 14

Antagonist said :

farnarkler said :

Can anyone explain why we need light rail?

In short, it is to fill an election promise that Labor and Mayor Rattenbury stole from another minor party to secure the votes they needed to form a minority government.

Bingo. And this is why the whole light rail situation is a farce.

It was never an option that came out of a comprehensive assessment of our public transport options. It is one of several ideas being thrown around the Greens got all excited about in the absence of any serious costings. They then saw a chance to force it on to us by appealing to a politician’s most basest of instincts, the desire to be in power.

What we will now get is a business case that is made to fit the outcome so that Labor can build their train set, appease the Greens and hold onto power.

dungfungus 9:33 pm 19 Oct 14

farnarkler said :

Can anyone explain why we need light rail? ACTION, whilst not perfect, gets people from Gungahlin to Civic and our traffic jams are tiny compared with other cities. Is this just an ego massage for Labor?

There is this “warm feeling” that the eco-nuts get when they see a tram namely it generates no visible pollution. The dirty coal fire powered stations that supply the electricity are “over the hills and far away”.
They are also very trendy and have “chic-Euro” styling which appeals to the Australian cringe.
Apart from that there is the “me too” mentality.
Oh, and they are “visionary” even though they are a 100 year old technology (go figure that one).
That’s about it (for the moment).

Antagonist 9:08 pm 19 Oct 14

farnarkler said :

Can anyone explain why we need light rail?

In short, it is to fill an election promise that Labor and Mayor Rattenbury stole from another minor party to secure the votes they needed to form a minority government.

rommeldog56 8:31 pm 19 Oct 14

farnarkler said :

Can anyone explain why we need light rail? ACTION, whilst not perfect, gets people from Gungahlin to Civic and our traffic jams are tiny compared with other cities. Is this just an ego massage for Labor?

This has been raised time and time again – correctly.

What concerns me most are comments pro the tram, like “just to it” or “lets get this thing happening” or “build it and they wil come” (meaning passengers and/or population density along the tram line) or “this will show that Canberra is all grown up now”, etc.

To me, against the weight of evidence that shows a tram is not financially viable, those “pro” comments defy logic, common sense and fiscal responsibility.

There is talk about returning the education system to focus on the basics. I hope that includes basic math, logic and common sense. Start with re educating Gallagher, Barr, Rattenburry, Corbell, etc + all the pro light rail brigade who really are yet to put up more evidence in support of their views – other than sloganism. Residents, ratepayers and voters in the ACT deserve better than this garbage decision making.

That Benefits Cost Ratio/business case to be released this month by the ACT Gov’t is going to be quite an interesdting read. I can not wait to see the amount of fudging, assumptions and docturing it will take to make it better than 1:1.

farnarkler 6:46 pm 19 Oct 14

Can anyone explain why we need light rail? ACTION, whilst not perfect, gets people from Gungahlin to Civic and our traffic jams are tiny compared with other cities. Is this just an ego massage for Labor?

urchin 5:47 pm 18 Oct 14

This is just idiotic.

The rapid bus transit system, according to their own studies, will do essentially the same job for a little over half the cost. (Yes, light rail defenders, I realise that it will be something like 3% slower and 2% less capacity or something to that effect, but it will cost a hell of a lot less and will be in place much faster).

All of the estimates for light rail show that it will, in all but the most optimistic scenarios, lose money. lots of money.

This is no good for anyone. People who live on the Red Rapid express corridor will have their current bus service stripped away and be forced to pay double or more their current fares to take the train (on top of double dipping on higher rates (higher land valuations plus a special levy on those who live within a few hundred metres of the track).

Oh, and the train stops will be a lot further apart than the bus stops, so an add’l 500m walk won’t be all that unusual. Fine if you’re young and healthy, but if you’re older or are not very mobile, that’s a big deal.

Finally the “public consultation” on this project has been an insult to every Canberrans’ intelligence. At no point were they ever genuinely interested in hearing or responding to our views. This was a done deal from the beginning, and the estimates their own reports or the strong opposition of residents (I’m a gungahliner on the corridor and I oppose it!) have been blatantly and callously disregarded.

best we can hope for is a change of gov’t before they start tearing up the roads. 4 years of insane traffic between gungahlin to civic while they build this white elephant… there’s something to look forward to.

8

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