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Left-leaning, pro-infrastructure city has its say

By Leon Gettler 17 October 2016 29

light rail artist impression

The ACT election result has national significance. It’s a warning for all political parties.

True, the result was not that big a surprise.

Admittedly, the Government had been in power for some time and was looking long in the tooth. Add to that the damaging audit report on its land dealings just a fortnight from the polls. Not to mention the Libs getting into bed with the clubs sector.

The reality however is that Canberra is a left-leaning sort of town.

The vote for Andrew Barr’s Labor Party last night came in at the same level it had in 2012: 39 per cent. The Liberals went backwards, their vote falling 3.3 per cent to 35.6 per cent. The Greens also slipped 0.1 per cent to 10.6 per cent.

Now the Liberal Party would be making a big mistake by saying Canberra is just that kind of electorate.

The reality is the Libs could have won the election but decided to contest it without a strategy.

Labor won because its platform was built around the territory’s biggest ever infrastructure project, a tramline.

Over the next few decades, the light rail will roll out a trunk route from Gungahlin to Woden.

And the numbers from the polling booths tell us something.

The Gungahlin electorate of Yerrabi handed Labor its biggest vote of any of the five electorates, at 44 per cent.

Canberra needs light rail because the only way people can get around the nation’s capital is by car. Without public transport infrastructure, Canberra is likely to turn into another Los Angeles.

There is a deep irony that the Libs did not support the $930 million light rail project. Light rail is the sort of public transport infrastructure that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would be keen on.

That might say something about issues inside the Liberal Party. But that’s another story.

The results show the political parties in Canberra, nationally and in other states, that voters want infrastructure.

They now expect governments to do the hard work and provide infrastructure instead of relying on commodities exports and the RBA to keep cutting interest rates.

Building infrastructure creates jobs and long term benefits for the economy.

Australia’s unemployment rate is at 5.6 per cent but full time jobs are vanishing and strength in accommodation, food and recreation (thanks to the lower $A) means that part-time jobs are keeping a lid on unemployment while full-time employment is shrinking wiith job losses among miners and in the utilities.

A public transport infrastructure project will create full time employment and that will have national consequences.

We cannot as a nation keep relying on commodities which fluctuate and which have sent the mining industry into retreat.

Nor can we keep relying on the Reserve Bank to keep cutting interest rates for economic growth. The RBA is reluctant to cut much further with household debt so overstretched. And while low interest rates have boosted housing and retail, those sectors are close to their peaks. Growth in housing will fall and that will fall heavily on retailers and the banks.

But the sort of public transport infrastructure to be rolled out in the ACT could change that and provide the economy with a second wind.

The challenge is developing strategies that make it pay for itself.

 

 

 


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Left-leaning, pro-infrastructure city has its say
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rommeldog56 8:48 am 21 Oct 16

wildturkeycanoe said :

As counting continues, the gap between the two parties is only just over 2%. I am still not convinced that Labour is supported by a majority of Canberrans, but it is only through alliance with the Greens that they hang on to power and even then the Greens are in doubt as to if they will sit on the same side of the fence.

It matters not I suppose. ACT hard Labor will form an alliance of some sort with the ACT Greens, so have retained Government. Whether Labor got more votes than Liberals doesnt really matter.

Is it true that the Greens have got a 2nd MLA ? Just heard that on 2CC.

wildturkeycanoe 8:04 am 21 Oct 16

As counting continues, the gap between the two parties is only just over 2%. I am still not convinced that Labour is supported by a majority of Canberrans, but it is only through alliance with the Greens that they hang on to power and even then the Greens are in doubt as to if they will sit on the same side of the fence.

wottaway 9:51 pm 20 Oct 16

That last sentence says it all, looking at the future as only ‘ a left-leaning town ‘ could. This project will make some Canberrans feel all warm and fuzzy for awhile, then reality will set in, having put the cart before the horse it will never pay for itself.

justin heywood 11:49 am 19 Oct 16

Deref said :

“Left-leadning”? I thought we’d elected a Labor government.

I know that many Greens have unilaterally declared themselves ‘centrist’ and therefore the major parties are all right-wing nut jobs.
.
Meanwhile, in the real world, the centre remains somewhere between Labor and the Libs.

Deref 10:07 am 19 Oct 16

“Left-leadning”? I thought we’d elected a Labor government.

Spiral 7:40 am 19 Oct 16

dungfungus said :

Garfield said :

2604 said :

“A public transport infrastructure project will create full time employment”

So when ratepayers spend ratepayers’ money, it doesn’t create jobs. But when the ACT Government spends ratepayers’ money, it does create jobs?

That’s one hell of a magic trick.

I’ve talked to developers who say that most of the light rail construction workers will come from Sydney. Given that the construction materials and light rail cars will not be Canberra made and the consortium profits will not stay here, there’s not going to be a whole lot of economic benefit from the direct spending on construction. If direct taxation of residents was lower, a good portion of those funds would still make their way interstate and overseas, but its highly likely that a greater percentage would stay in the ACT, thus probably leading to more jobs in the ACT than light rail will generate.

The roadside election signs said the light would create 3,500 permanent jobs.

That’s a lot of tram drivers.

Why didn’t the media step up and challenge this fanciful claim?

Because journalists in Australia are pathetic. All they seem to be able to do is regurgitate press releases.

I have seen similar things in the last 2 years relating to a $Billion Federal project. The Minister made comments that were so factually wrong a competent journalist could have debunked them and embarrassed the minister simply by checking the appropriate wiki page or calling the Australian office of the company.

In the lead up to the last Federal election it amazed me no journalist caught on and used it.

Garfield 11:48 pm 18 Oct 16

gooterz said :

I don’t get why the libs were taking down their signs from beside the parkway late at night before the election..

They probably put them up again the next morning or later that night closer to polling booths. With so many signs lost before election day, they probably didn’t have enough left to cover all the polling booths without moving the signs that were still up elsewhere.

gooterz 11:14 pm 18 Oct 16

I don’t get why the libs were taking down their signs from beside the parkway late at night before the election..

2604 10:32 pm 18 Oct 16

BunLover said :

Ah yes, that relentlessly left-leaning media explains why The Canberra Times advocated a vote for the Liberals.

Scoreboard as of election eve:
Editorials advocating that ACT residents vote for the Liberals: 1
Front-page Tony Abbott gotcha stories: 967

Maya123 9:57 pm 18 Oct 16

BunLover said :

2604 said :

dungfungus said :

The roadside election signs said the light would create 3,500 permanent jobs.

That’s a lot of tram drivers.

Why didn’t the media step up and challenge this fanciful claim?

Because the media in this city are relentlessly left-wing, pro-union and pro-Labor, that’s why. They think and act like university undergraduates and are completely incapable of thinking critically.

BTW, don’t forget that those 3,500 jobs are union jobs, with the chosen few being given above-market wages and conditions. It would be more like 7,000 jobs if the same amount of money were being spent by private citizens in the private economy.

Ah yes, that relentlessly left-leaning media explains why The Canberra Times advocated a vote for the Liberals.

And likely why so many Can the Tram letters were printed, relentlessly. I wonder how many letters in favour of the tram never got a chance of being printed. I know I sent a (mild) letter in on the side of the trams that was never printed. Still, with so many Can the Tram letters being printed, it might have given the Liberals a force sense of what the community actually felt about the issue.

dungfungus 9:07 pm 18 Oct 16

BunLover said :

2604 said :

dungfungus said :

The roadside election signs said the light would create 3,500 permanent jobs.

That’s a lot of tram drivers.

Why didn’t the media step up and challenge this fanciful claim?

Because the media in this city are relentlessly left-wing, pro-union and pro-Labor, that’s why. They think and act like university undergraduates and are completely incapable of thinking critically.

BTW, don’t forget that those 3,500 jobs are union jobs, with the chosen few being given above-market wages and conditions. It would be more like 7,000 jobs if the same amount of money were being spent by private citizens in the private economy.

Ah yes, that relentlessly left-leaning media explains why The Canberra Times advocated a vote for the Liberals.

Very few Canberrans still read the Canberra Times. I suspect very few would read the editorials.

BunLover 6:03 pm 18 Oct 16

2604 said :

dungfungus said :

The roadside election signs said the light would create 3,500 permanent jobs.

That’s a lot of tram drivers.

Why didn’t the media step up and challenge this fanciful claim?

Because the media in this city are relentlessly left-wing, pro-union and pro-Labor, that’s why. They think and act like university undergraduates and are completely incapable of thinking critically.

BTW, don’t forget that those 3,500 jobs are union jobs, with the chosen few being given above-market wages and conditions. It would be more like 7,000 jobs if the same amount of money were being spent by private citizens in the private economy.

Ah yes, that relentlessly left-leaning media explains why The Canberra Times advocated a vote for the Liberals.

dungfungus 8:32 am 18 Oct 16

rommeldog56 said :

dungfungus said :

The roadside election signs said the light would create 3,500 permanent jobs.

That’s a lot of tram drivers.

Why didn’t the media step up and challenge this fanciful claim?

As I recall, it said “3,500 jobs”, not “3,500 permanent jobs”. And it not clear if thats just for stage 1 or the whole network – presumably just tram stage 1.
Regardless, it is a misleading claim – often repeated by mindless pro tramers.

It would even include an electrician called in to do an hours work on the tram construction. For the most part, these would not be permanent jobs. However, as with the permanent jobs, they will be union dominated and that labor will be expensive. But what the hell, ACT Ratepayers can afford it and want it I suppose, so who cares.

Half the 3,500 will be traffic controllers (lollipop people) on Northbourne Avenue.
Even Phillip Clarke on ABC 666 Radio said this morning he had experienced (for the first time) traffic gridlock on Northbourne Avenue last Friday as workmen installed fencing for the light rail construction.

If Phil had then rushed back to his ABC studio and told Canberra what was happening maybe the election outcome would have been different, I mean why did the government start putting up the barriers on the eve of the election?

rommeldog56 11:33 pm 17 Oct 16

pink little birdie said :

Because apparently the workers will arrive in Canberra each day work and go back to Sydney when the shift ends?
It’s a 20 year building plan for the whole network. There is a good chance with steady work, shorter commute, good schools, more family friendly why wouldn’t the workers move here?
Also after the initial workers surely the training up of workers would be recruited from here.

I would imagine that the construction workforce will be contractors – and almost certainly a rich source of members for the local CFMEU.

rommeldog56 11:29 pm 17 Oct 16

dungfungus said :

The roadside election signs said the light would create 3,500 permanent jobs.

That’s a lot of tram drivers.

Why didn’t the media step up and challenge this fanciful claim?

As I recall, it said “3,500 jobs”, not “3,500 permanent jobs”. And it not clear if thats just for stage 1 or the whole network – presumably just tram stage 1.
Regardless, it is a misleading claim – often repeated by mindless pro tramers. It would even include an electrician called in to do an hours work on the tram construction. For the most part, these would not be permanent jobs. However, as with the permanent jobs, they will be union dominated and that labor will be expensive. But what the hell, ACT Ratepayers can afford it and want it I suppose, so who cares.

Garfield 10:34 pm 17 Oct 16

pink little birdie said :

Garfield said :

2604 said :

“A public transport infrastructure project will create full time employment”

So when ratepayers spend ratepayers’ money, it doesn’t create jobs. But when the ACT Government spends ratepayers’ money, it does create jobs?

That’s one hell of a magic trick.

I’ve talked to developers who say that most of the light rail construction workers will come from Sydney. Given that the construction materials and light rail cars will not be Canberra made and the consortium profits will not stay here, there’s not going to be a whole lot of economic benefit from the direct spending on construction. If direct taxation of residents was lower, a good portion of those funds would still make their way interstate and overseas, but its highly likely that a greater percentage would stay in the ACT, thus probably leading to more jobs in the ACT than light rail will generate.

Because apparently the workers will arrive in Canberra each day work and go back to Sydney when the shift ends?
It’s a 20 year building plan for the whole network. There is a good chance with steady work, shorter commute, good schools, more family friendly why wouldn’t the workers move here?
Also after the initial workers surely the training up of workers would be recruited from here.

The workers will come up for a week or two at a time and then go home for a few days. Its quite common in large scale construction. Site wages will also be a relatively small component of the construction cost. Sure there will be spending on accommodation and food while they’re here, but most of the workers’ discretionary spending will be in their home towns. Sure some may move here, but as well as being family friendly, Canberra can be an expensive place to live and buy property. The construction of stage 1 is only slated to take about 2 years and there’s no guarantee the same consortium will win, or even bid for, the contract for stage 2 and later stages. There also won’t be 3,500 construction jobs at any one time. The economists who came up with that figure criticised the unions for using it in the way they did.

2604 10:22 pm 17 Oct 16

dungfungus said :

The roadside election signs said the light would create 3,500 permanent jobs.

That’s a lot of tram drivers.

Why didn’t the media step up and challenge this fanciful claim?

Because the media in this city are relentlessly left-wing, pro-union and pro-Labor, that’s why. They think and act like university undergraduates and are completely incapable of thinking critically.

BTW, don’t forget that those 3,500 jobs are union jobs, with the chosen few being given above-market wages and conditions. It would be more like 7,000 jobs if the same amount of money were being spent by private citizens in the private economy.

justin heywood 10:05 pm 17 Oct 16

I disagree with almost every claim in this OP.

– It’s incorrect to say the Libs lost because they ‘didn’t have a strategy’. They did. It just didn’t involve a tram. On almost every other policy they were just about level-pegging with Labor.

– The Greens were the earliest and strongest supporters of the tram project, yet they made no progress at all in this election. In fact they went backwards.

– While building infrastructure does indeed create jobs, the OP does not seem to consider that infrastructure must also be paid for. No city (or nation) can sustain itself by simply ‘building things’.

Masquara 9:13 pm 17 Oct 16

Now we have to find that $80,000 each – plus $80,000 each from every child in Canberra! I think it will hurt.

dungfungus 6:27 pm 17 Oct 16

Garfield said :

2604 said :

“A public transport infrastructure project will create full time employment”

So when ratepayers spend ratepayers’ money, it doesn’t create jobs. But when the ACT Government spends ratepayers’ money, it does create jobs?

That’s one hell of a magic trick.

I’ve talked to developers who say that most of the light rail construction workers will come from Sydney. Given that the construction materials and light rail cars will not be Canberra made and the consortium profits will not stay here, there’s not going to be a whole lot of economic benefit from the direct spending on construction. If direct taxation of residents was lower, a good portion of those funds would still make their way interstate and overseas, but its highly likely that a greater percentage would stay in the ACT, thus probably leading to more jobs in the ACT than light rail will generate.

The roadside election signs said the light would create 3,500 permanent jobs.

That’s a lot of tram drivers.

Why didn’t the media step up and challenge this fanciful claim?

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