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No informed consent on light rail

By Ray Polglaze - 14 October 2016 18

light rail artist impression

Labor and the Greens may claim mandates for light rail from the 2012 and 2016 elections on the simple basis of announcements before those elections. But they cannot claim informed consent on light rail.

The ethical principles of informed consent were developed in the 1947 Nuremberg Code and have since been generally applied to medical practice and research. More recently, they have been applied through international conventions to indigenous communities considering major development proposals.

It is also not apparent why if a doctor needs informed consent before surgery on a patient, a government does not need informed consent from a community before “surgery” on a city.

The ethical principles of informed consent raise at least two key issues for Labor and the Greens on light rail: the adequacy of the information provided and deception.

Many people are concerned about the costs of light rail and the effects of those costs including increasing rates, reduced expenditure on health and education, and corridors of high density development to pay those costs.  Those costs are then a critical issue for informed consent.

In their September 2012 policy statement on light rail, Labor committed to establish a “private sector partnership to plan, finance and develop the first stage of a Light Rail Network for Canberra” and estimated the total cost for the first stage from Gungahlin to Civic at $614 million.

On the last page of their policy statement, they said construction was estimated to commence in 2016, but many did not understand that Labor was committed to spending $614 million on light rail if elected. It was anticipated that those funds would come from the private sector.

The Canberra Times reported that “Labor’s policy has committed just $30 million to design work”. The ABC News also reported  “Labor committing $30 million in capital funding”.  Both Damien Haas from ACT Light Rail and Amanda Bresnan from the Greens understood that $30 million was the extent of Labor’s spending commitment.

In their August 2012 election initiative on light rail, the Greens committed an initial $200 million of government funding for building light rail.  They quoted an estimate of $204 million for the total cost for Gungahlin to Civic.

Light rail was then a key element in the November 2012 agreement between Labor and the Greens to form government.  In May 2016, the Labor-Green Government signed the contracts for the first stage of light rail from Gungahlin to Civic.

By May 2016, the costs for that first stage had increased from Labor’s $614 million and the Green’s $204 million to $939 million (present value with discounting of future expenses and now including running costs) and $1.78 billion over twenty years (nominal value without discounting).  Those costs are much higher than the understood 2012 pre-election spending commitments and cost estimates.  That makes that pre-election cost information seriously misleading.

Labor and the Greens announced in September 2016 that they will proceed with a second stage of light rail from Civic to Woden if re-elected.  They have provided no cost estimates for this stage beyond Andrew Barr’s comment that “we anticipate the costs to be similar to the costs of stage one” (ABC news).  But there is the possibility that bridging the lake will be expensive.

Labor and the Greens have attempted to minimise the costs of light rail by repeatedly claiming that those costs are only 1% of the ACT budget.  But this 1% only applies to the first stage of light rail. It does not include the costs of the announced second stage or other stages of the light rail network.  Shane Rattenbury acknowledged this at the North Canberra Community Council ACT Election Forum.

Labor and the Greens have emphasised that light rail will be extended to the whole of Canberra. The Canberra Transport Light Rail Network plan has seven planned stages.  The first stage is not viable without the other stages. The second stage from Civic to Woden will also lock in construction of two further stages to Tuggeranong and Belconnen to re-establish a core public transport through route between the town centres.

It is therefore misleading to refer to the costs of light rail as being 1% without including the costs of these additional stages of the whole light rail network.

It is also relatively easy to generate estimates of the costs of the whole light rail network with basic mathematics.  If one stage is 1% of the ACT budget, then seven stages would be 7% of the budget.

Similarly, if one stage costs $939 million on present values, then seven stages would cost $6.57 billion.  If one stage costs $1.78 million on nominal values (the amounts that will actually need to be paid over twenty years), then seven stages would cost $12.46 billion.

A competent government with access to engineering and estimating expertise could do better estimates.  But these estimates are better than none.

The WA Greens have published cost estimates for their complete light rail proposals. But the ACT Greens and Labor are not willing to do this.

Labor and the Greens seriously underestimated the costs of the first stage of light rail in their 2012 pre-election cost information. They have provided no substantive cost information for the second stage to Woden or the overall light rail network. They have attempted to mislead voters by claiming that the costs of light rail will be only 1% of the ACT budget.

Where there should be fully adequate information on costs, the information provided has been seriously misleading and inadequate. Where there should be no deception, there has been intentional deception.

Labor and the Greens cannot now claim informed consent for light rail from either the 2012 or the 2016 elections.

 

 

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18 Responses to
No informed consent on light rail
1
Grail 12:01 pm
14 Oct 16
#

“It is also not apparent why if a doctor needs informed consent before surgery on a patient, a government does not need informed consent from a community before “surgery” on a city.”

Seriously? You are seriously comparing a doctor performing surgery to a city performing urban planning and development?

You are comparing an elected government performing urban development to an external government imposing policy and development on an indigenous community?

I am surprised you didn’t bring rape or Nazis into the hysteria too!

As for adequacy of information and deception, how much income is the light rail expected to bring? Why did you neglect to mention the light rail’s positive ROI over the Liberal busway’s negative ROI?

A liberal shill engaging in deception and misinformation? Say it ain’t so!

2
rommeldog56 12:07 pm
14 Oct 16
#

Well written/said.

Many of these issues have been raised on RiotAct repeatedly since the 2012 election. It beggars belief that some on here still can not see what the issues are with the tram or obfuscate those because they are rusted on Labor/Greens supporters and simply can not abide a change of Government.

It is a shame that this was not written and posted here a week or so ago.

3
rommeldog56 12:53 pm
14 Oct 16
#

Grail said :

Why did you neglect to mention the light rail’s positive ROI over the Liberal busway’s negative ROI?

Wrong. The ACT Govt’s own submission to Infrastructure Australia said that the ROI on Rapid Bus Transit was much more than double the ROI on the tram. The ACT Govt has also admitted that on numerous occasions.

4
Garfield 1:10 pm
14 Oct 16
#

rommeldog56 said :

Grail said :

Why did you neglect to mention the light rail’s positive ROI over the Liberal busway’s negative ROI?

Wrong. The ACT Govt’s own submission to Infrastructure Australia said that the ROI on Rapid Bus Transit was much more than double the ROI on the tram. The ACT Govt has also admitted that on numerous occasions.

Have to second that. Every time I’ve seen the two compared, BRT has been well in front. The internal ACT government figures FOI’d by the Canberra Times showed that when they calculated light rail spending to provide benefits of 1.02, BRT had 1.98. Even when they factored in as many intangibles as they could to try and make light rail look better, it only got to 2.34 while BRT on the same basis was valued at 4.78. Comparatively speaking BRT became even better value than light rail. Have to say that rather than the author engaging in deception and misinformation, Grail should have a look at that section of their own post.

5
chewy14 1:44 pm
14 Oct 16
#

Grail said :

“It is also not apparent why if a doctor needs informed consent before surgery on a patient, a government does not need informed consent from a community before “surgery” on a city.”

Seriously? You are seriously comparing a doctor performing surgery to a city performing urban planning and development?

You are comparing an elected government performing urban development to an external government imposing policy and development on an indigenous community?

I am surprised you didn’t bring rape or Nazis into the hysteria too!

As for adequacy of information and deception, how much income is the light rail expected to bring? Why did you neglect to mention the light rail’s positive ROI over the Liberal busway’s negative ROI?

A liberal shill engaging in deception and misinformation? Say it ain’t so!

What are you talking about? The BRT option has a fair higher cost benefit ratio than the light rail as the government’s own figures show.

The first stage of light rail has a Cost benefit of 0.5 as a transport project and it only gets to 1.2 when development “value capture” and other less concrete benefits are added in, something which is inherently dangerous to do on projects like this.

The worst thing about this is I can see us in the exact same position in four years time if Labor wins. They’ll claim they have a mandate for the second stage of light rail because they’ve announced the Woden route will go ahead despite doing almost no planning work and having no costings available.

6
anneenna 2:06 pm
14 Oct 16
#

I have been surprised and saddened by the number of people who care about the environment and social justice who disagree with light rail. The main reason why we are fighting each other, Ray, is that governments these days are fiscally conservative, so there is a smaller pie from which we are trying to build infrastructure the public needs. That is the main issue.

I know you care about public housing. We would be able to have quality public transport AND quality public housing if governments had adequate revenue these days. It just seems very sad that people on the left, who prioritise the urgency of dealing with climate change would fight each other on this issue.

As far as I understand, the abolition of stamp duty and the changes to ACT rates linked with value of land, overall makes for a territory government that is not at the beck-and-call of the real estate industry /dependent on house sales for revenue as other states are. It makes the tax regime more “Georgist” i.e. Henry George would approve.

Why you are reinforcing Liberal talking points beats me. Labor and the Greens do need to address cost of living issues, but they are far more likely to alleviate the cost of living for people who are struggling than the Liberals are.

7
mcs 2:34 pm
14 Oct 16
#

rommeldog56 said :

Grail said :

Why did you neglect to mention the light rail’s positive ROI over the Liberal busway’s negative ROI?

Wrong. The ACT Govt’s own submission to Infrastructure Australia said that the ROI on Rapid Bus Transit was much more than double the ROI on the tram. The ACT Govt has also admitted that on numerous occasions.

While that is true, what the Liberals are proposing is very different to what the Bus Rapid Transit that was in that submission proposed – which incorporated a completely dedicated busway down the middle of Northbourne, not an extra lane each way on the existing roadway. Without looking at detail of what was behind the BCR in that 2012 submission, that may make a fairly substantial difference. It may not, given it should be cheaper to add a lane to Northbourne than build dedicated ones down the middle.

8
Leon Arundell 3:29 pm
14 Oct 16
#

anneenna said :

We would be able to have quality public transport AND quality public housing if governments had adequate revenue these days. It just seems very sad that people on the left, who prioritise the urgency of dealing with climate change would fight each other on this issue.

The Government would have an extra $400 million more to spend on public housing if it built bus rapid transit instead of light rail.

I care about the climate impacts of 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse emissions from construction of Stage 1, and that Stage 1 will not reduce public transport operating emissions because the displaced bus travel will be reallocated to more services on more routes.

Building light rail in the median will make it impossible to locate the northbound and southbound carriageways adjacent to each other. That will mean forty more years of people being unable to walk across Northbourne Avenue without having to wait for an extra 90 seconds after the lights change while they are crossing the median, and forty more years of Northbourne Avenue operating below capacity because of the extra all-red time that is needed to allow cars to cross the median at the end of each phase of the traffic lights.

9
bj_ACT 3:35 pm
14 Oct 16
#

anneenna said :

I have been surprised and saddened by the number of people who care about the environment and social justice who disagree with light rail. The main reason why we are fighting each other, Ray, is that governments these days are fiscally conservative, so there is a smaller pie from which we are trying to build infrastructure the public needs. That is the main issue.

I know you care about public housing. We would be able to have quality public transport AND quality public housing if governments had adequate revenue these days. It just seems very sad that people on the left, who prioritise the urgency of dealing with climate change would fight each other on this issue.

As far as I understand, the abolition of stamp duty and the changes to ACT rates linked with value of land, overall makes for a territory government that is not at the beck-and-call of the real estate industry /dependent on house sales for revenue as other states are. It makes the tax regime more “Georgist” i.e. Henry George would approve.

Why you are reinforcing Liberal talking points beats me. Labor and the Greens do need to address cost of living issues, but they are far more likely to alleviate the cost of living for people who are struggling than the Liberals are.

The problem with your argument is that the Greens and ACT Labor have abandoned struggling Canberran’s by adopting policies that have hurt many low socio economic residents in the city.

It has been very strange this election to see the Liberal Party trying to argue about more money for Education, Housing and Health before Labor followed suit.

Your claim on the Stamp Duty reductions are actually the opposite of what is true. It was the Real Estate Institutes, Property Developers and Property Investment lobbyists who argued for the change and they have benefited from it.

Unlike you claim, ACT Labor closed a lot of Schools in the struggling Tuggeranong area and NAPLAN school performances in that area have dived over the last few years (exactly as argued what would happen by Education experts as they said it would cause a cycle of families not wanting to move to the area due to poor schooling, leading to the cycle continuing). Kambah & Wanniassa were listed as the most Mortgaged Stressed areas in all of Australia, but ACT Labor and the Greens have ignored these issues because the two parties want to target Election funding into the areas that will win or lose them tomorrows election.

You like Labor and Greens argue that you support the socially disadvantaged. But are you fighting for those Kambah residents who have been deserted by the Government for over a decade? A suburb whose:
– Unemployment Rate has double since 2008,
– Had the largest ‘Annual Rates increase’ to income/asset in Canberra
– Seen their jobs disappear and the suburbs Newstart numbers increase markedly
– Seen their schools close and watched the remaining school become the worst in town.

I’m sure you are not one of them, but Canberra has a number of inner city Greens supporters who want the transport and environmental benefits of a Greener Canberra in their own backyard, but they won’t give up money or taxes to support Green socio-economic principles or helping the working poor in the outer Burbs.

What I do agree with, is that all three Canberra parties have lost vision of the entire city being a better and more equal place for residents from Banks in the South all the way to Amaroo in the North.

10
chewy14 3:58 pm
14 Oct 16
#

anneenna said :

I have been surprised and saddened by the number of people who care about the environment and social justice who disagree with light rail. The main reason why we are fighting each other, Ray, is that governments these days are fiscally conservative, so there is a smaller pie from which we are trying to build infrastructure the public needs. That is the main issue.

I know you care about public housing. We would be able to have quality public transport AND quality public housing if governments had adequate revenue these days. It just seems very sad that people on the left, who prioritise the urgency of dealing with climate change would fight each other on this issue.

As far as I understand, the abolition of stamp duty and the changes to ACT rates linked with value of land, overall makes for a territory government that is not at the beck-and-call of the real estate industry /dependent on house sales for revenue as other states are. It makes the tax regime more “Georgist” i.e. Henry George would approve.

Why you are reinforcing Liberal talking points beats me. Labor and the Greens do need to address cost of living issues, but they are far more likely to alleviate the cost of living for people who are struggling than the Liberals are.

And I’m truly amazed at those from the “left” who support a gold plated infrastructure project which will lead to poorer people subsidising a massive private benefit paid for by public funds. Literally giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to inner city property owners who already have significant assets.

It truly baffles me how they can support what is basically millionaire welfare.

11
Garfield 4:06 pm
14 Oct 16
#

mcs said :

rommeldog56 said :

Grail said :

Why did you neglect to mention the light rail’s positive ROI over the Liberal busway’s negative ROI?

Wrong. The ACT Govt’s own submission to Infrastructure Australia said that the ROI on Rapid Bus Transit was much more than double the ROI on the tram. The ACT Govt has also admitted that on numerous occasions.

While that is true, what the Liberals are proposing is very different to what the Bus Rapid Transit that was in that submission proposed – which incorporated a completely dedicated busway down the middle of Northbourne, not an extra lane each way on the existing roadway. Without looking at detail of what was behind the BCR in that 2012 submission, that may make a fairly substantial difference. It may not, given it should be cheaper to add a lane to Northbourne than build dedicated ones down the middle.

In the Liberal proposal, the extra lane each way is still a dedicated bus lane, just adjacent to the kerb rather than in the median. I read something regarding concerns about difficulties in commuters getting to and from the median strip to get on and off buses and that was part of the rationale for having it kerbside.

12
HiddenDragon 4:44 pm
14 Oct 16
#

“Labor and the Greens have attempted to minimise the costs of light rail by repeatedly claiming that those costs are only 1% of the ACT budget. But this 1% only applies to the first stage of light rail. It does not include the costs of the announced second stage or other stages of the light rail network. Shane Rattenbury acknowledged this at the North Canberra Community Council ACT Election Forum.”

Anyone who thinks back to all the soothing noises made by Labor and the Greens before the 2012 election about tax “reform”, and compares that to what has actually happened to rates in the four years since then, would be quite right to be wary of reassurances from the same people about the true financial costs and benefits of a tram network for Canberra.

13
rommeldog56 4:56 pm
14 Oct 16
#

anneenna said :

Labor and the Greens do need to address cost of living issues, but they are far more likely to alleviate the cost of living for people who are struggling than the Liberals are.

Hahaha…..thats a joke, right ??

ACT Labor/Greens are increasing Annual Rates by avg.10%pa, forever. They have just increased Annual Rates on Units by 20%. They have, for very cynical reasons, reduced the Annual Rates increases because its an election year – but increased the existing “levy” that was billed with Annual Rates and then introduced a new “levy” to boot.

ACT labor/Greens drip feed land releases which artificially forces up the price to buy. The construction industry is dominated by the unions, also increasing the cost to build.

So much for affordable housing. ACT Labor/Greens give that concept lip service.

Parking costs are programed to increase each year. Bus fares regularly increase. All ACt Govt charges are increasing at a rapid rate. Been to the tip lately – check out those fees !

To compare what ACT Labor/Greens have done with the cost of living in the ACT, to what the Libs could not have done because they arnt/wernt in Government here, is just yet another scare campaign from the left.

We need a change of Government here – badly. If the Libs dont work out in 4 years, vote them out. If nothing else, having a sit in opposition for 4 years might shake up ACT Labor/Greens and take away some of the “born to rule” arrogance and contempt of ACT Ratepayers.

14
Passy 5:41 pm
14 Oct 16
#

Good article Ray. It looks to me that, under the guise of improving transport and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, this is actually built on value increase in the corridor and the benefits for developers, real estate agents and spivs associated with the ALP. It is in part a land grab and relocation exercise to expel public housing tenants from near Civic and along Northbourne Avenue.

The figures don’t stack up for me either. And since we are a city built around roads – all roads lead to Civic seemingly – I would have thought a better investment is in electric buses and rapid transport, and over time moving to making such travel free to help reduce car use.

15
JC 5:46 pm
14 Oct 16
#

Leon Arundell said :

The Government would have an extra $400 million more to spend on public housing if it built bus rapid transit instead of light rail.

Not quite. I don’t believe BRT was intended to be a PPP, so the cost would have been an upfront government cost (paid in stages through to completion of the BRT construction). Whereas as light rail is a PPP with a one off payment on completion and the remaining including the cost of construction, finance and running are spread over 20 years. So doesn’t mean there is $400m lying around to spend on something else. Kind of like how the Libs seem to be double counting ‘savings’ from light rail.

Their cancellation fee is about equal to the one off cost on completion and any savings would have to be spread over 20 years. Yet they are counting that as savings to pay for short term infrastructure costs. Whereas costs short term are actually higher.

Eg. Labor $300m on completion, $47m first year, $48 second, $49 3rd year, $504th year. So over 4 years total cost lets round it $500m.

Liberal, $300m to cancel light rail contracts, $395m for hospital, assuming 4 year construction, so already up to $695m.

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