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.
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.
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.
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.