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Smyth spruiks benefits of light rail on eve of campaign

By Charlotte Harper - 9 September 2016 15

Brendan Smyth and Andrew Barr

Former Liberals MLA Brendan Smyth has talked of the benefits of light rail for Canberra on the eve of an election campaign focused largely on his former party’s plan to cancel contracts for the public transport initiative.

Mr Smyth was asked about light rail during the last Government press conference before the caretaker period. He appeared with ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr at Canberra Airport to launch a document called “Canberra’s International Engagement Strategy”.

ABC journalist Narda Gilmore asked Mr Smyth about the importance of infrastructure, specifically light rail, to his new office’s international engagement strategy, given page 13 of the document sets out a plan to “facilitate the infrastructure for an international city with projects including the Light Rail Masterplan and the City-to-the-Lake Vision”.

Having earlier noted that much of the document had been completed before he took up his appointment as Commissioner for International Engagement, Mr Smyth said light rail was a policy of the Government and great cities had good public transport.

“The Government is delivering that through its light rail initiative, but it’s beyond the light rail,” he said, going on to list examples from hotels to sporting facilities and paving.

Asked whether he felt comfortable selling light rail, the former Liberal MLA and ex-Leader of the Opposition smiled.

“As a Federal public servant more than 20 years ago, I worked for the Hawke and then the Keating Labor governments. As a public servant, you sell the policies of the government of the day,” he said.

“And I do remind you that in 2008, the Canberra Liberals had a policy concerning light rail.

“I’m not going to get into the politics of it, that’s not my job, I’m a public servant, but a long-term advocate that good public transport needs to work, so that the people we attract know that they can get around.”

Mr Smyth said that he expected to see examples of good infrastructure during his occasional travel to cities overseas and would be bringing ideas back to the Government for consideration.

Fairfax journalist Kirsten Lawson then asked him to “tell us something great about light rail”.

“There are many advantages to light rail, and I’m sure if you go back to the clips from the Chief Minister and Mr Corbell and Mr Rattenbury, you’ll have oodles of information to sell the light rail,” Mr Smyth said.

“The point about light rail is making sure that you connect people, connect them quickly so that they have options.”

He said buses didn’t work for some people, and others would only use the car.

“But it’s about having a series of options … we need to make sure that we as a city offer those options.”

Asked whether he’d sought assurance from Liberals Leader Jeremy Hanson that his new job would be safe if they won the election, Mr Smyth said he recalled Mr Hanson saying he looked forward to working with him in the future, and Mr Smyth himself looked forward to working with whoever is in office after the election.

“We’ve had a number of conversations since I left the Assembly, but they’re between Jeremy and I,” Mr Smyth said.

“He said on the day that the job would continue so I see no reason to doubt his word.”

What’s Your opinion?


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15 Responses to
Smyth spruiks benefits of light rail on eve of campaign
1
rommeldog56 7:10 am
09 Sep 16
#

OMG – what a sell out !!!! Obviously, give a politician a higher salary and some overseas travel (or at the Federal level, pay their personal bills), and turn their opinion.

If, in the unlikely event that the Lib’s take Govt in the ACT in October, I wonder if this position will be abolished ?

The creation of this position and the occupying of it by the ex Lib’s Mr Smyth, stinks and is just one more example of why an independent ICAC style body is needed in the ACT. No wonder ACT Labor don’t support that.

2
JC 8:00 am
09 Sep 16
#

Maybe he hasn’t turned. Maybe now he is out of politics he doesn’t have to play political games.

As for the ICAC, didn’t the Libs oppose that, until just recently. Only changed their mind when they saw some votes in it.

3
rommeldog56 9:02 am
09 Sep 16
#

JC said :

Maybe he hasn’t turned. Maybe now he is out of politics he doesn’t have to play political games.

So, given their free will, how many ACT Labor MLAs would not support the tram or other ACT Govt decisions. Nah – he was bought out – like Federal Labors Senator Dastyari recently was – and so many other politicians from both sides.

4
rommeldog56 9:03 am
09 Sep 16
#

JC said :

As for the ICAC, didn’t the Libs oppose that, until just recently. Only changed their mind when they saw some votes in it.

Not surprising is it. Also not surprising that ACT Labor/Greens made tram stage 2 to be to Woden instead of the airport because they “saw some votes in it”.

5
Mordd / Chris Richar 1:33 pm
09 Sep 16
#

rommeldog56 said :

JC said :

Maybe he hasn’t turned. Maybe now he is out of politics he doesn’t have to play political games.

So, given their free will, how many ACT Labor MLAs would not support the tram or other ACT Govt decisions. Nah – he was bought out – like Federal Labors Senator Dastyari recently was – and so many other politicians from both sides.

Let’s ban all political parties in the ACT and force all candidates to run as independents only from now. Let’s give them all free will back and show the world how a real minority system functions, would be a fun experiment if nothing else!

6
Masquara 5:55 pm
09 Sep 16
#

JC said :

Maybe he hasn’t turned. Maybe now he is out of politics he doesn’t have to play political games.

He’s a public servant, so of course he is spruiking the government line, regardless of his personal thoughts …

7
dustytrail 6:50 pm
09 Sep 16
#

Oh dear. Both Labor and Liberals are promising to spend millions of dollars on new hospitals and so forth. Geeze.

I might do what I did at the Federal Election, just get my name marked off. Unbelievable.

We do need a change of Government in the ACT but ……..

8
gooterz 10:52 pm
09 Sep 16
#

Do we concede that democracy has failed?

Maybe the libs should start investing in Labor or the greens.

9
dungfungus 10:27 am
10 Sep 16
#

Masquara said :

JC said :

Maybe he hasn’t turned. Maybe now he is out of politics he doesn’t have to play political games.

He’s a public servant, so of course he is spruiking the government line, regardless of his personal thoughts …

The name “Sinecure Smyth” seems appropriate from now on.

10
John Moulis 1:42 pm
10 Sep 16
#

gooterz said :

Do we concede that democracy has failed?

Maybe the libs should start investing in Labor or the greens.

Not the first time we have heard about democracy “failing” in the ACT. The original proposal for self government was several mini electorates of a couple of suburbs each but the Libs in the Senate knocked that on the head because “Labor would win every seat”. The D’Hondt voting system and later Hare Clark were the result of the Libs and independents collaborating to enable more of their number to be elected.

11
justin heywood 4:52 pm
10 Sep 16
#

Oh come on OP, he was hardly ‘spruiking’ light rail. Reading the article it’s obvious that the ABC journo spotted the fact that Smythe was in an awkward spot re. his opposition to light rail and his new role.

She used the opportunity to try and force him into a meaningless Gotcha! quote. This is apparently what many ‘journalists’ dream of these days, instead of, you know, the objective pursuit of facts and stuff.

Your article was accurate. The headline, not so much.

12
HiddenDragon 5:14 pm
10 Sep 16
#

As the old saying goes, “he who pays the piper, calls the tune” – but to be fair to Brendan, who was obviously doing his best to tiptoe around the gotcha questions, it isn’t part of the job of the Commissioner for International Engagement to worry about issues which are concerning many Canberrans, such as the affordability of trams, opportunity costs, impact on existing roads, the practicality of getting across the Lake etc. etc.

Of course, once they look beyond the image aspects of a little city with a tram system (or the prospect thereof), international investors might be more concerned about the current and future costs of doing business here, including the trajectory of ACT Government spending – doubtless, the Commissioner will have reassuring things to say on that subject.

13
dungfungus 8:20 am
11 Sep 16
#

justin heywood said :

Oh come on OP, he was hardly ‘spruiking’ light rail. Reading the article it’s obvious that the ABC journo spotted the fact that Smythe was in an awkward spot re. his opposition to light rail and his new role.

She used the opportunity to try and force him into a meaningless Gotcha! quote. This is apparently what many ‘journalists’ dream of these days, instead of, you know, the objective pursuit of facts and stuff.

Your article was accurate. The headline, not so much.

Agree. The ABC should stick to reporting the news and lay-off the commentary. We are intelligent enough to form our own unbiased opinions.

14
Leon 8:42 am
12 Sep 16
#

““The point about light rail is making sure that you connect people, connect them quickly so that they have options.”

That’s why we have to make people get off their buses, walk from bus stops to light rail stops, wait along the way at pedestrian signals, and hope that their connecting tram hasn’t already left.

15
dungfungus 9:11 am
12 Sep 16
#

Leon said :

““The point about light rail is making sure that you connect people, connect them quickly so that they have options.”

That’s why we have to make people get off their buses, walk from bus stops to light rail stops, wait along the way at pedestrian signals, and hope that their connecting tram hasn’t already left.

People certainly don’t travel (usually standing) by tram for pleasure.

Some people get excited by the novelty of them, especially in Europe, but my experiences on them is that there is no one smiling.

Trams work best where there is nothing else offering. At present, we have cars and buses (and bicycles for the thrill-seekers).

We don’t need trams.

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