14 August 2020

Chic Henry gets election motor running, calls for light rail switch to Belconnen

| Ian Bushnell
Join the conversation
Chic Henry

Chic Henry says Canberra needs for more independent voices in the Assembly. Photo: File.

Canberra’s newest political candidate for the October election wants to re-route light rail Stage 2 to Belconnen, fearing the current route to Woden will bankrupt the city.

Summernats founder and self-admitted number one revhead Chic Henry has tossed his hat into the ring for Bill Stefaniak’s Belco Party, which had been courting the Belconnen resident of 30 years for some time to join its ticket in Ginninderra for the 17 October poll.

Mr Henry, 74, says taking light rail to Belconnen would be more affordable, especially with the COVID-19 measures putting a dent in the Teritory’s finances, and provide an easier build than crossing the lake and negotiating the Parliamentary Zone.

”Most people would recognise the dramatic cost of getting it across the lake, the horror story of passing it through the minefield which is the Parliamentary Triangle triangle and just getting it to Woden,” he said.

He said the ACT didn’t have the money to go that way and a route to Belconnen would be easier.

”Let’s not lose sight of the value of light rail but I’m a believer in doing the best with what you’ve got,” he said.

READ ALSO: Five more parties join growing list for October election

Mr Henry says Canberra has been good to him and now he wants to give back something by making a contribution in the Assembly.

He believes there should be more experienced independent views in the Assembly to bring back some balance to politics in the ACT, and that the Barr Government has lost its way and is out of touch with most Canberrans.

”The city needs new energy and new independent blood. We need a new vision which is inclusive of all Canberrans,” Mr Henry said.

He also believes the Ginninderra electorate and the suburbs in general have been neglected in favour of inner-city areas such as Braddon and Kingston.

Mr Henry refused to be drawn on which party he would back to form a government, saying it would depend on the issues at stake.

But given Mr Stefaniak’s previous life as a Liberal leader, the Belco Party’s rates and taxes position and Mr Henry’s pro-small business, less red tape and more law and order stance, the Canberra Liberals might be well placed to get their backing.

READ ALSO: Could Bill Stefaniak be the Assembly soufflé that rises twice?

That said, he might also have some common interest with the Greens, saying he supports the transition to electric cars and the installation of rooftop solar across the city.

”I’m very interested in working towards seeing more electric vehicles on the road, which is a bit of a contradiction being number one revhead, but it’s coming sooner than people realise,” he said

While the Belco Party is only standing in Ginninderra, Mr Henry believes what’s mostly good for Belconnen will be good for the rest of Canberra.

He believes small business needs more support and less bureaucracy to deal with, saying the planning system was deterring firms from growing.

”They’re reluctant to go ahead because it’s so difficult, it’s a bit of minefield. We want to tidy that up, we don’t want barriers to be put up,” Mr Henry said.

Sticking to his strength, Mr Henry announced two policies for motorists: restricting paid public parking in Canberra to only 8:30 am to 5:30 pm Monday to Friday, and cutting motor registration fees.

”We will abolish paid parking at night and on the weekends. This will reinvigorate our city centres on the weekends and evenings, and be a great help to lower-paid weekend shift workers,” he said.

“Secondly, we will have the country’s lowest registration fees for cars, vans, trailers, boat trailers, motorbikes, campers, and commercial vehicles. We will benchmark all the Australian states registrations charges and beat them by 10 per cent. It is time Canberra motors and recreational vehicle users had a break on what are currently excessive charges.”

He also flagged support for a motorsports facility and pledged to investigate its feasibility and a suitable site.

Mr Henry headed up the annual Summernats motor festival at Exhibition Park from 1988 to 2008, and was made an Honorary Ambassador to Canberra.

Mr Stefaniak said Mr Henry would bring a different perspective to local politics, be a voice for the dreams and desires for the future of many of the forgotten people of Belconnen.

“Chic brings a wealth of experience to the Belco Party team. He is a dynamic can-do leader who has already made a magnificent contribution to the ACT. Chic will make a great MLA and shows a great concern to the everyday members of our community,” he said.

Mr Henry joins Mr Stefaniak and former AFL footballer Alan Tutt in the Ginninderra contest.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

So now three Liberals running in a Liberal aligned party to round up votes for, well, the Libs, with young lib support. Good one.

michael quirk10:37 am 17 Aug 20

Given the competing priorities (,social housing, health, education and improving the bus network to name a few), the economic uncertainty, lower population growth and the high levels of debt generated by the pandemic it would be prudent to defer any decision on light rail for several years. This would also enable the impacts of increased working from home, improvements in high capacity electric buses (including those to be used from 2023 on the Brisbane Metro) and the complex design and value capture issues associated with the route to be fully assessed.

Such assessment would inform whether the light rail is a better use of public funds than alternatives such as bus rapid transport. The decision to extend light rail should be based on evidence rather than an act of faith.

20 years of ALP blindly leading us around, and Chic has hit the nail on the head even before being elected, he at least has a ‘VISION’ for our city.

Mr Henry says that he believes that the Barr government is out of touch with most Canberrans.

Mr Henry might be out of touch with the southside half of Canberra if he thinks that they would be pleased to fork out big bucks a second time for a light rail system that would be purely a northside affair.

Stephen Saunders1:35 pm 15 Aug 20

Beginning to think you’re right, Chic. As in Gungahlin, the Belco punters would happily climb on board. Whereas the Woden link will always be undermined by federal parliament, NCA, and the Jon Stanhope Resistance Army with their seminal cost-benefit studies.

Instead of having a robust infrastructure planning system that prioritised projects based on robust cost benefit studies, we should just rely on the “vibe”.

Oh wait, the ALP already hold 3 seats in Belconnen. No pork for you.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.