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Canberrans must vote on the light rail project. No mandate exists to continue the project.

This petition had 77 supporters


Canberrans want to vote on the light rail project before contracts are signed. The Government has NO mandate because of the results of the 2012 Election. The results are clear:

8 seats went to Liberals, against trams,
8 seats went to Labor, $30M for planning, let contracts after the next meeting.
So 16 out of 17 want no trams during this parliament.
1 out of 17 wanted trams in this term, & that party lost 3 out of 4 seats previously held.
The Greens/Labor agreement has no mandate power as it was signed AFTER the election. There is no mandate to go ahead now. We want the following:

1.     further expenditure towards the Capital Metro Light Rail Project and associated expenditure should cease immediately, and no contracts to be signed until after the 2016 Election or later.

2.     the Assembly give Canberrans the right to decide, via a Referendum, whether they will fund a light rail network for Canberra.

3.     that a Referendum be run as a separate issue but concurrent with the 2016 Election.  

4.     that a rigorous "due diligence" process be implemented immediately to ensure Canberrans have faith that all options are on the table, and those same Canberrans participate in the decision making process.

5.     the government immediately work in partnership with community groups to reach out to each suburb and to those currently using their cars to get around. We want to achieve maximum patronage of existing public transport. 27 years is patently too long to wait. Patronage levels should have improved significantly by now.

BASIS FOR PETITION 

The ACT Government has had some 27 years to reach out to its constituents and increase their use of public transport.  That has not happened yet!

Pre Election 2012, ACT Labor's policy document stated:

"They will commit $30 million dollars over the next two years to begin an examination of constructing a light rail line with public private partnership options(and we assume funding models)"

This also includes the setting up of a Project office called Capital Metro.

Only if elected in again in 2016 would construction of the Gungahlin-Civic Light rail link actually begin, with an aim for completion by 2018.

ALP Labor did not say, that if elected in 2012, it would sign an agreement, in government, with the one Green member to achieve government. Nor did ALP Labor tell the ACT people the indicative cost of the whole network.

But already, even before contracts are signed, the Government has allocated $375m of public funds as a capital injection to the project, and a further $159m to rehouse public tenants moved from Northbourne Ave in support of the project. What else is there to come that we were not told?

We believe the government has not been fully transparent, and continues to work against the wishes of its constituents. In addition, the government has opposed requests for a Referendum. Offering a Referendum now would be a face saving exercise for the government, and restore some public trust in those who govern us.

We are asking for cancellation of the Capital Metro project pending the result of a referendum. This is primarily for three reasons:

Cancellation of the project gives Capital Metro and the government the opportunity to complete its due diligence exercise, and put the results to the constituents. That we have only been offered Bus Rapid Transport and Light Rail is evidence of that. There are other mature technologies available, which a due diligence exercise would reveal.

Commercial firms can be prosecuted for not completing their due diligence. So why should the government be allowed to avoid those responsibilities and get away with it?

The government has passed laws that ban formal objection to the project. This is  autocracy, not democracy.

Some details to consider

Stage 1 cost estimates.  In 2012 Labor said the estimate for Stage 1 of the Project would be something over $600m. To date the cost has blown out to an estimated $800m after three years, even including interest charges. So, it is likely that by the time work commences on Stage 1, it will cost over $1Billion, not even including interest charges.

Paying for the project Minister Gentleman's Statement of Intent shows some 120km of light rail track for a Canberra-wide network. Experts in the field have indicated that just for Stage 1, all ratepayers could expect to face rates increase of $600-$700 pa.

Assuming at least $1Billion per 12km track, and the equivalent of 10 times Stage 1 expenditure ie $10Billion. If that is correct, and we believe it is the bare minimum, rates are likely to go up by a factor of 10.

Redevelopment of Northbourne Ave will result in rate increases, along the route to pay for light rail.

The above expenditures mean that many more immediate publicly provided projects will suffer. Already we have seen the Police and other agencies, hospitals, schools, roads, homeless etc., as well as the Canberra wide ACTION buses deprived of much needed funds.

What is absolutely crucial is the need to go back to the drawing board and ask what problem we are trying to resolve. Is it improved patronage, commercialising Civic, solving an accommodation problem because of limited supply of greenfield sites or some other issue?

Surely we should define the problem and then identify solutions, both technological, strategic and otherwise. Then all of this should be put to the Canberra public, unambiguously and transparently so we can discuss a way ahead. This will allow Canberrans to agree upon a cost effective public transport system that we can afford.

The public outcry is such that we are very divided about the project. In part many of us do not know what the project is about, and this is a failure to bring Canberrans into government plans.

Author: Russ Morison for Canberra Public Transport Alliance

Tel: 02 62927567 Mob: 0408 947 935  Email: dabblers2@hotmail.com

 



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