25 November 2022

Liberals accused of light rail 'backflip' as they push again for timeline, cost

| Lottie Twyford
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The Canberra Liberals continue to push the Government for a timeline on light rail but they won’t confirm their own position. Photo: Region.

The Territory’s Opposition continues to hammer the Government over its refusal to provide a timeline and cost for the next stages of the light rail project.

While the Canberra Liberals have yet to confirm their support for light rail to Woden – despite them having taken this to the last election – they are now signalling their views have changed.

On Tuesday (22 November), Canberra Liberals Leader Elizabeth Lee was asked repeatedly about her position.

She wouldn’t say, instead teasing an announcement on the topic in the next few weeks.

The party was due to make some kind of an announcement on the topic on the day Queen Elizabeth II died but have since remained tight-lipped.

Chris steel

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel blasted the Liberals for ‘having never supported the project’. Photo: ACT Government.

Despite this lack of official position, Transport Minister Chris Steel has seized on Ms Lee’s lack of confirmation, accusing the party of having backflipped on the position it brought to the last election.

“The Canberra Liberals are still debating whether they support light rail stage one let alone the future extension down to Woden,” he said on Thursday (24 November).

“It’s very clear they have never supported light rail and never will.”

Mr Steel also accused the party of having betrayed the city’s Southside with its lack of support.

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A push for a timeline for Stage 2B (from Commonwealth Park to Woden) is not new.

In fact, earlier this year the ACT Greens and the Opposition appeared to be in lockstep on the matter.

But Mr Steel continues to respond by saying a detailed timeline – and a detailed cost – will be available as the procurement process continues.

His position on the topic – no matter how many times he is questioned – has been that he doesn’t want to provide “rubbery” figures.

The Transport Minister also rejected any suggestion the community could lose confidence in the project as it dragged on, instead repeating that the Government remained committed to getting it to Woden.

Opposition spokesperson for transport Mark Parton, who moved Thursday’s motion, accused Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Mr Steel of being happy to pose with shovels for photoshoots but unable to give the public simple details on cost and delivery.

“It is not good enough for Labor and the Greens to continually spruik ‘light rail is coming’ to Woden but then refuse to tell Canberrans when the project will be completed or how much it will cost taxpayers,” he said in a statement.

Mr Parton’s bid to force the Government to reveal a timeline once again failed to elicit an announcement on either timings or cost from the Government.

Instead, the pressure remains on the Canberra Liberals to announce their position.

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Preparatory works to raise London Circuit have now begun.

That’s needed to create a level intersection with Commonwealth Avenue to enable light rail’s right-hand turn from London Circuit towards the lake.

The raising of the road is expected to take two years and then laying the tracks and building the stops to Commonwealth Park is expected to take another two.

That timeline was confirmed in Senate estimates last month.

A works application for Stage 2A was expected to be submitted to the National Capital Authority by the end of the year, Mr Steel told estimates hearings earlier this year.

He has rejected suggestions light rail won’t get to Woden until 2030 after the federal funding rollout showed the final payment wouldn’t be delivered until then.

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Leon Arundell8:28 am 26 Nov 22

A Government that cared about southsiders would years ago have provided transit lanes to get them quickly from Tuggeranong and Woden to Civic, Belconnen and Gungahlin.
It would have built bus rapid transit from Gungahlin to Civic and Woden, for same cost as light rail from Gungahlin to Civic.
It would have investigated better public transport options between Woden and Civic.
The Business Case for light rail Stage 2A reports the whole of Stage 2 would produce only 60 cents worth of benefits for each dollar that it would cost, and that Stage 2A would produce only 40 cents worth of benefits for each dollar that it would cost.

Is Steel under the impression that the libs won the last election?
That would explain why he has no plans and timeline and blaming the libs for the same?

The core falsehood in the tram debate is even if you don’t want the tram you’d like to have some say where it goes if you HAVE to have it.

Instead, people seen as wanting the tram near them if it comes are seen as globally supporting the tram.

The tram debate is like choosing which leg you want to get shot by an armed robber. Then Mr Steel is blaming the libs “the bystander” for not being able to give you advice on which leg to shoot. It shows real contempt and trying to cover his own lack of plans for deliberate or undeliberate reasons.

The deliberate comes down to timing the tram with the Pork barrel elections. The Tram doesn’t add value but merely shifts it around town. If you want the value shifted to you, you have to vote labor.

The raising of London circuit is related to selling out the public lake forefront for apartments.
A pay back for developers sponsoring them at the election.

Why should the Liberals outline a position on a project with unknown costs and timelines.

What a ridiculous proposition.

I’m not sure why there is an expectation that the Libs should declare their position on LR2?

The business case and the delivery of LR as a means of public transport for Stage 1, was marginal, at best and we are yet to see a businesses case for LR2.
As a means of public transport, the commute time from Woden to the City will be significantly longer than the existing bus network, so that’a a problem too.

The Libs have probably figured that Stage 2 looks like a lemon and with the Government reluctant to give details, its easy to assume they think so too.

The Libs are on a flogging to nothing here. They don’t have the numbers to stop LR. The Greens will always support the Government on No Confidence etc and the Libs can ask questions and the Government and be largely fobbed off.
The Libs probably also know that if they win, they will have to complete LR 2, even if it is a lemon. There would be no point having LR go to the lake and there be a new train/ bus interchange at Woden and not connecting them.

Put simply; once 2A commences and cover leaves are knocked down, LR goes to Woden.

Not The Mama2:59 pm 25 Nov 22

“Mr Steel also accused the party of having betrayed the city’s Southside with its lack of support.”

That’s a bit rich, isn’t it? The South has been neglected and betrayed by ACT Labour Governments for decades. The latest betrayal is the indefinite deferral of much needed road works down there so that the light rail could be extended to the Parliamentary Triangle.

ACT Liberals guaranteeing that they will never be elected into power. How can ‘politicians’ be so politically naive? Budgets and timelines are indicative at best and it’s rare to find any project that involves so many different contractors to come in on time and budget in what are challenging and erratic financial times. The liberals rather than cultivate the South using the advantages of the North have set out to alienate that very same South by denying them the services that the North enjoy.

privatepublic11:39 am 25 Nov 22

I recall when Katy Gallagher mentioned 650 million for the tram as being over the top. Barr on the other hand is from the left, which is very much in tune in relation to the unions, in particular the CFMEU. Some mention it’s urban renewal, no it is to assist the union.

Because the business case is not transparent: It makes me wonder what type of derivative has been utilised and which country (s) have the funds been borrowed from. When the contract for the derivative expires a new contract at higher interest will be drawn up. I could be wrong on this assumption.

I have worked with a project worth over a billion AUD (just a small cog) and the plan/BC was open to the public with highly detailed projects within programs. They would not have won the tenure using the local governments BC.

A shame the local government did not include an upper house. Having said that even if there were an upper house it would probably be occupied by the ALP left. Not anti ALP here, as the middle ground seems to have been swallowed up whole from the left.

Not The Mama2:53 pm 25 Nov 22

@privatepublic – I don’t know about supporting unions, etc. But I do agree that there is an appalling lack of transparency on this project. But then that’s the Barr government all over, isn’t it? BTW. I support the Light rail and its expansion EVERYWHERE but I also support transparent governance.

Mr Barr from the left? I’m sure he would be very surprised to hear that!

privatepublic8:47 am 26 Nov 22

ACT Labor are a center left party. Their main point of ideology is progressivism (left) and the fact they are in alliance with the greens who are distinctively on the left.

He is with the right faction! The party are not in alliance wi

You stated Mr Barr is from the left. He is not from the left, he is from the right faction. The party is not in an alliance with the Greens. They have a governing agreement which is freely available on the ACT government website.

privatepublic3:29 pm 26 Nov 22

Actions pre and present speak louder than words/claims/and or titles.

He can claim he is from the right, makes no difference to me, he can call himself Susan, John or Marshmallow, makes no difference to me. Fact is he is very left with a touch of centre.

High Taxation without any sight of real reform is unfortunately left leaning.

Procurement within the ACTGOV from memory must be vetted (maybe not the correct word), by Unions ACT, very inefficient and obviously left leaning.

Calling for a school to be built by females only without regards to best practice/cost is so 70’s and left leaning.

Blind Freddy can ascertain from any angle that Labor and the Greens are definitely co-mingled.

Some of the business deals he has tried to get off the ground are middle ground, no doubt.

We will have to disagree as debate on both sides of the fence should continue, healthy stuff.

For this particular feed I will not be commenting/responding any further.

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