Probing the polls: a new railway station and a budget for hard times

Genevieve Jacobs 11 October 2021 21
Sandford Street light rail stop

The 2021 ACT budget includes funding for the next stages of light rail. Photo: John Mikita.

Do we need a new railway station in the city centre? Canberra’s only interstate rail connection is in Kingston and transport advocates believe a new railway station in Civic could link up light rail, the airport and the main southern railway line that currently runs through Yass.

Plenty of you agreed: Sharon Cornthwaite wrote “As a regional passenger, I already have to take a 4-hour bus trip to Canberra to catch the train to Sydney. The timetable is very limited, and an upgrade would be most welcome”, while Ian Barndt wrote “and ‘down the track’ perhaps commuter services via light rail to Bungendore, Michelago and beyond, with stops at Jerrabomberra, Googong, Hume, and connections into the Tuggeranong valley.”

This week’s poll asked Do we need a new railway station in the city centre? 1667 readers voted. Your choices were No, that train has gone and it’s no longer a relevant idea. This received 34 per cent of the total, or 568 votes. Alternatively, you could vote Yes, it would need investment but I’d catch the train for sure. This was the winner, with 66 per cent of the total, or 1099 votes.

This week, our attention is focused on the ACT budget, delayed by COVID-19, but delivered last week.

The ACT Government unveiled a $5 billion pipeline of infrastructure projects, describing it as the largest program in the history of the ACT public sector.

Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr said the Government would be going full throttle to support the strongest possible economic recovery.

“We will be pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the ACT economy over the coming years to support, create and protect thousands of good, secure local jobs in the public sector, the private sector and the community sector,” he said.

“Interest rates are the lowest since federation, providing a once-in-a-century opportunity for the Government to build sustainable, productivity-improving and growth-enabling infrastructure to prepare our city for the future.”

READ ALSO: Pandemic Budget Barr’s shot in the arm for Canberra

There is $1.4 billion for the ACT’s transport system, including the first light rail stop for stage two of light rail to Woden, design and construction of the Sulwood Drive shared path and the duplication of William Hovell Drive, as well as upgrades to roads and paths and improvements to active travel routes across Canberra, in addition to the Canberra Hospital expansion, light rail stage 2A to Commonwealth Park and CIT Woden.

Where did all the money come from amid soaring pandemic costs? The ACT Budget shows a 3.75 per cent average increase in residential rates for both units and houses, but rises will vary widely across the Territory depending on the type, size and location of the property.

READ ALSO: ACT Budget: Your rates and what you will pay

Many readers were not impressed. Nadine wrote “When will Barr realise that the average person can’t afford any more rates or rego increases. Our quality of life is decreasing because of having these continued increases. A tram from Civic to Woden will not in any way reduce the financial burden for the average person. But stopping these increases in rates and rego will help people. If Barr understood what the average person needed maybe he will put aside this tram project and minimise the financial cost to us.”

But Jazzy Dhooria wrote “A new hospital in tuggers would be amazing! It’s got a little economy of its own”, while Ted Oxenham wrote perhaps tongue in cheek, “I’m angry because rates are going up and at the source it all is really just my fear of change.”

In this week’s poll, we’re wondering whether the Government got the settings right.

Is the 2021 Budget on track to meet our needs in a tough economic climate?

View Results

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21 Responses to Probing the polls: a new railway station and a budget for hard times
Richard Windsor Richard Windsor 2:33 pm 11 Oct 21

The pursuit of madness by expanding a tram unsupported by an adequate cost-benefit analysis will lead us all into terminal despair.

Alan Rose Alan Rose 2:47 am 12 Oct 21

That is par for the course for the ACT government, my rates have gone up $500 in the last 5 years.

    Craig Jamieson Craig Jamieson 8:03 am 14 Oct 21

    Alan Rose you are lucky, mine went up 2000.

    Tim Rozitis Tim Rozitis 4:12 pm 15 Oct 21

    pretty sure that means the asset you guys are sitting on went up a reasonable chunk in value (guess the increasing value of your home must be Labor's fault)

Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins 7:17 am 12 Oct 21

Seems like a lot of money not to achieve very much...

Vanessa Jones Vanessa Jones 12:39 pm 12 Oct 21

People around Charnwood are discussing the funding needed in their area- bravo to them!! No tram funding out there.... //¬if_id=1633910131315706&ref=notif¬if_t=group_threaded_same_level_comment_reply

Nora Preston Nora Preston 8:48 am 13 Oct 21

The majority don’t want Lightrail, why is it still going ahead. When will the Government ever listen? Now would be a good time. Ban the trams

    Tom Carmody Tom Carmody 12:33 pm 13 Oct 21

    Nora Preston I can guarantee you don’t speak for anyone in Gungahlin or North Canberra. But hey, you do you.

    Tom Carmody Tom Carmody 3:48 pm 13 Oct 21

    Peter Hatfield Sounds good mate. So I’ve been to hospital once in the last 10 years so I’ll make sure I stop paying for those because I don’t use them.

    Peter Hatfield Peter Hatfield 3:56 pm 13 Oct 21

    Tom Carmody . I've never been to hospital since I left the maternity ward in Byron Bay seventy years ago. . This was an investment with benifits largely for one geographic area. That's why it's normal practice to recover the cost of transit projects from taxes on those who benifit. That way they look harder at the value for money equation than they do if they are voting for something others are subsidising..

David W Jones David W Jones 10:26 am 13 Oct 21

The Canberra Liberals warmed rates would double under Labor /Green but nobody wanted to listen. Toy trains don’t grow on trees!

    Jason Parkes Jason Parkes 6:27 pm 13 Oct 21

    David W Jones I listened and…..believed them. Still wouldn’t vote for them.

    David W Jones David W Jones 8:17 pm 13 Oct 21

    Jason Parkes each to their own I guess you may have more money than me. 😇😂. All good bro

Peter Hatfield Peter Hatfield 3:49 pm 13 Oct 21

The rates on my 270k flat in Belco are higher than my 1.1m house in Ballina and our municipal services are as good or better. And unlike someone who has a second home in NSW I don't get any vote on how my rates are used.

    Chaoslos Hermandez Chaoslos Hermandez 2:35 pm 14 Oct 21

    Peter Hatfield sounds like you're really struggling too.

    Peter Hatfield Peter Hatfield 2:38 pm 14 Oct 21

    Chaoslos Hermandez You don't need to be a battler to expect good value and equitable for public spending. We all deserve it.

    Chaoslos Hermandez Chaoslos Hermandez 2:43 pm 14 Oct 21

    Peter Hatfield Sigh you own more than two homes we're gonna disagree. I've watched predatory investors make sure no young couple can buy in the ACT anymore, and it wasn't the future I wanted for my children. I would rather every family have a home (as was the norm 30 years ago) than a few have 5 or more. Many in the ACT are proud of doing this. I....feel differently about their actions.

Damian Robins Damian Robins 7:02 pm 14 Oct 21

While we are at it can we have express services between ACT and Yass, Gunning and Goulburn…, oh and Bredbo for those down South.

With stops along the way at Murumbateman for the Yass service, Gundaroo and Sutton for the Gunning service…, for example… 😏

Shane Bennett Shane Bennett 8:48 pm 14 Oct 21

Should we just direct deposit all income into the ACT Government coffers now, or will we continue the charade?

Robin Eckermann Robin Eckermann 10:24 pm 14 Oct 21

I’ll see your $2,000 and raise you $1,500. My rates have gone up an average of nearly 9% ever year since the ideologically driven decision to embrace yesterday’s tram technology

    Tim Rozitis Tim Rozitis 4:15 pm 15 Oct 21

    how much has your property value gone up during that time?

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