The closer we get to the magical fairytale of light rail in Canberra, the more it appears that the accounting on this big ticket item has come from the Brothers Grimm.
At the start of this week, Treasurer Andrew Barr was up in arms because of the story that the Canberra Times had run suggesting there would be a city wide levy on rates to pay for toy train line.
He told me that was just incorrect.
“Ok Minister, so you can categorically rule out a city wide levy ?”
“Oh no,” said Mr Barr, “I’m not in the business of ruling things in and ruling things out at this stage.”
“So was the Canberra Times correct in their suggestion ?”
“No they were wrong.”
“So you can rule it out ?”
“No I can’t”
It became an endless conversation and it left my listeners believing that there was as fair chance they would be subject to a city wide levy.
I spoke to the Chief Minister, the morning after the Federal Budget and she wasn’t much clearer.
I put it to her that government “didn’t seem to have any idea how we were going to find the money for this project.”
She explained to me that, it’s not like that I have no idea, it’s just that they have lots of ideas and they haven’t decided which one to go with yet.
And NOTHING is being ruled in or out.
I’m not diametrically opposed to light rail in Canberra. I think if we could wave a magic wand and create a line between Gungahlin and Civic tomorrow it would be wonderful for our city. But we can’t.
Is there anyone reading this who believes the project will be delivered on time and on budget?
Yes Capital Metro has the potential to genuinely propel our city into the 21st century, but at what cost?