22 April 2024

'No reason we need to wait': ACT Greens demand faster start date for light rail stage 2B

| Claire Fenwicke
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Light rail Commonwealth-Ave-Aerial

The ACT Greens want work to start on light rail stage 2B while stage 2A is also underway. Photo: ACT Government.

The ACT Greens have demanded their coalition partners explain why light rail stage 2B can’t be started sooner.

The party has pledged to work on cutting down the additional nine-year wait for light rail to reach Woden.

Transport spokesperson Jo Clay said Canberrans were right to feel let down by ACT Labor.

“ACT Labor say they can’t deliver Light Rail to Woden before 2033, but the Greens won’t just sit back and accept that,” she said.

“The Greens envisage a light rail network, not just a shuttle line. If we want our kids to be able to use it throughout their life, we need continual construction.

“Let’s start building Commonwealth Park to Woden during the construction, testing and commissioning of Stage 2A. There’s no reason we need to wait until 2028 or later to start building Stage 2B.”

Ms Clay pointed to the Gold Coast light rail project as an example of delivering such a project faster and questioned why the ACT Government couldn’t also keep to a tighter schedule.

“We all face the same labour and supply challenges, and we are all operating in the same national infrastructure market,” she said.

Ms Clay accused ACT Labor of a “lack of priority” towards the project, pointing to a Riotact article where the Chief Minister said the Canberra Hospital expansion had to take the front seat for this term of government.

Given transport accounts for about 60 per cent of the ACT’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, she stressed giving more people access to light rail would help the environment.

“Canberrans love the high-quality, zero-emissions transport they’ve experienced over the past five years on light rail to Gungahlin,” Ms Clay said.

“We can’t and won’t wait to share the love of light rail with Canberra’s south.”

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The Canberra Liberals have also cited the Gold Coast project as a reason why the project should be stopped completely.

Earlier this month, the Queensland government flagged that the fourth stage of its light rail project – a 13-kilometre stretch crossing two waterways to link Burleigh Heads to Coolangatta via the airport – could cost anywhere from $3.1 billion to $7.6 billion.

The preliminary business case for the Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 4 project gave a “strategic cost estimate” of $4.467 billion, with the wider cost range to allow for “unknown risks”.

Queensland Transport Minister Bart Mellish said the government would have to “consider the viability of projects where they have very large cost estimates versus benefit”.

ACT Shadow Transport Minister Mark Parton wondered if Canberra’s next light rail stage could also cost billions more than expected.

“Reading between the lines, Queensland Labor is very close to cutting its losses and pulling the pin on the next stage because, apparently, it does not stack up,” he said.

“The next stage of the Gold Coast tram project is 13 kilometres, so it is similar in distance to stage 2B of our tram.

“What is it going to cost, I wonder?”

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In response, a spokesperson for Transport Minister Chris Steel’s office stated it was “disappointing” the ACT Greens had taken “such a confused position” on how major project environmental and planning approvals worked.

“Ms Clay knows that the current construction timeframe is a direct result of lengthy Commonwealth environmental, heritage and planning approvals processes,” they said.

“As members of the ACT Cabinet, Greens leadership is well aware of the complexities of delivering this next stage of light rail.

“The engineering challenges getting over Lake Burley Griffin and the significant approval processes required for the project need to be considered when making comparisons with other light rail projects nationally or globally.”

They also questioned why the ACT Greens appeared to be pushing for approvals to hurry up when their own 2024 election policy platform outlines goals to add more regulatory and environmental approvals processes and practices for infrastructure and development in the Territory.

“The Greens Party should be upfront on which environmental and planning approval process they think the light rail project should not be subject to,” the spokesperson said.

“Canberrans know that ACT Labor is the only party with a practical and proven track record on delivering major infrastructure projects for Canberrans.”

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GrumpyGrandpa6:46 pm 23 Apr 24

The Greens’ spokesperson, Ms Clay, should be mindful that the ACCC has given a warning about the use of terms like “zero emissions” transport, because it is considered to be deceptive.

Despite Ms Clay’s views that
giving more people access to light rail would help the environment, wouldn’t an electric bus and electric LR use the same environmentally friendly electricity?

For me, the real question is which one of the electric bus or an electric LR will get people from Woden and Tuggeranong into the City the quickest?

Canberra has higher priorities than more light rail. For example, what about a hospital for Gungahlin? What about better paediatric services so parents don’t have to take their sick children to Sydney? What about more dental specialists so that people don’t have to wait 6 weeks for difficult extractions and other dental work? How about more immunologists so people don’t have to go to Goulburn for treatment by a visiting doctor from Concord Hospital? Etc. If people want to compare the ACT’s health costs with those of the states and the Northern Territory, they should probably compare light rail costs as well.

Nick Stevens11:06 am 23 Apr 24

How about everyone pays their fair share of tax ?

How about more bulk-billing GPs, to start with?

Yes, we may need these things AND to plan transport for acting on climate and building a city over the next 100 years. If you’ve experienced well planned cities overseas, you know that car dependence is an awkward unnecessary and destructive way to enjoy and be productive in cities.

“No reason to wait”

Says political party about a multi billion dollar infrastructure project with no detailed options analysis or business case to define the benefits that may accrue.

And these people are part of our current government.


We need to vote in people with solid background in science and technology – not with bullsh*t management hallmark either.

Trish O'Connor4:27 pm 22 Apr 24

Cannot believe that the people of Canberra can stand by and let the Greens and Barr destroy that beautiful bridge – have they not stood underneath it and just looked at its beauty.

They should heritage-list those bridges. Canberra is not designed for high-density living, and they should steer away from around Lake BG.

The greens in this town are too keen to knock down trees.

If they greens are that keen, why not argue that even if we went light rail the current build is too expensive.
All big cities had trams at the turn of the century (not the last one), and yet they didnt have the same cost.

Ignoring inflation, the 1960’s Apollo program/moon landing cost of $25billion seems in the ballpark of a full network cost for the ACT tram.

Ah yes, the Canberra light rail project. Rail cars are electric so I have been told? But here’s the Green woke argument shot down in flames. Those rail cars are powered by coal and gas fired generators from NSW and will be for decades to come. Of course the future renewables taking over eventually argument works a treat for a heavy power user like electrified light rail when the sun goes down and wind doesn’t blow. What’s the matter Communist Greens? Not enough Canberrans taking up your green nirvana of driving EV’s? HE HE! But guess what? They are also charged with coal and gas fired power generation. IDIOTIC, and most Australians are finally waking up to how idiotic it is.

Oh dear. Despite fossil fuel companies having a grip on Australia over the last several decades, renewables have proven that they are cheaper and that their energy can be stored. Yes, when the sun goes down and the wind has stopped blowing, the battery or molten salts can maintain the energy supply. My understanding is that the ACT’s leadership towards 100% renewables will make running light rail quite available. And what about those who want to make us drive cars? Is that not an authoritarian rule on people who want a future free of climate disaster?

Hi Rob, thinking of IDIOTIC, I take it you have observed that an EV charged from 100% fossil fuel power generation is still more efficient than an ICE?

And you have observed that nearly 40% of energy in Australia is already from non-fossil sources, and the proportion constantly grows?

And you have observed that there are already firming technologies in the grid with more being built and developed, like Snowy 2?

And you have observed that when the wind is not blowing around your house it will still be blowing elsewhere in the State and in the country, in fact even in the next valley as likely as not?

It appears the only thing in flames is your backside. Who would be surprised by that.

I would like the Greens to donate 100% of their salary to construction for 5 years to make this happen

Let’s not make commitments (nor sign contracts) until we have had the election. With luck we’ll end up with a government that consults with the ratepayers who fund this stuff, as well as one that represents all Canberrans, not just the few who benefit from light rail.

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