Thursday, October 18, 2012

Light Rail policy from the parties in the 2012 Assembly election

Who to vote for? If you are concerned about public transport and light rail then read through this post and make your mind up. ACT Light Rail have summarised the policies of the major parties and independents, where they have been made known. 


After eleven years and several failed pro-bus public transport policies, the ALP  has accepted that light rail with integrated bus services offers the best mass transit option for Canberra's future. The ALP now have a policy that proposes that if they are reelected this year:  

  • They will begin an examination of constructing a light rail line with public private partnership options(and we assume funding models), 
  • If elected again in 2016, would actually begin construction of the Gungahlin to Civic light rail link with an aim for completion by 2018. 
  • They will commit 30 million dollars over the next two years for further work on these proposals. 
  • The name of the proposed light rail is Capital Metro. 
  • Initial link will run from Gungahlin to Civic along Northbourne Avenue
  • This initial link is costed at $614 million dollars

This is an exciting change in policy from a previously pro-bus government. 

There are a few concerns from ACT Light Rail. Firstly - only 30 million has actually been committed and secondly - it must be remembered that the ALP went to the 2008 election campaign with a light rail policy which foundered in silence from Infrastructure Australia who went with Majura Parkway instead. 

Those concerns aside, it appears to be a genuine change in approach and if re-elected, ACT Light Rail will hold them to this proposal.  

More ALP policy details can be found here: Capital Metro Light Rail project
The ABC have a good analysis of the proposal here: Labor backs light rail 

The Greens

The first party to offer a proper light rail policy in the  2012 ACT Assembly election campaign, the ACT Greens fired the opening salvo with an excellent policy proposal.

In summary, the ACT Greens light rail policy is this:
  • Commit to building a light rail for Canberra
  • $200 million initial Government funding committed to light rail
  • An ACT wide light rail master plan, covering existing and developing areas
  • Construction on Canberra's first light rail route beginning by 2015
  • Independently manage the project through the Canberra Urban Transit Authority, a new independent body to design, cost and manage funding and construction of light rail in Canberra.

When asked by the media what ACT Light Rail thought of this proposal, our response was 'This is the most forward looking public transport policy in Canberra since self government'.

Our only concern is the Greens did not make it a mandatory policy for an agreement to govern contract with whatever party they seek to align with in the next Assembly. 

Canberra Liberals

Disappointingly, the Canberra Liberals have not come out with a new policy on light rail for the 2012 campaign. ACT Light Rail believe they are content to run with their policy from four years ago which committed to an engineering study to determine the costs of a future light rail network in the ACT.

Canberra Liberals leader Zed Seselja advised ACT Light Rail that the Canberra Liberals were not opposed to light rail and remained open minded. They were focussed on getting ACTION working more effectively. 

At a community meeting on 16 October 2012, Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne when asked about light rail policy said that while she was personally in favour of light rail, she had concerns over the cost of the ALP proposal, how it would be paid for and the ability of an ALP Government to deliver it on budget and on time. 

Liberal Candidate for Ginninderra, Matt Watts, is a member of ACT Light Rail. (declaration of vested interest - Damien Haas, ACT Light Rail Chair has been assisting Matt Watts in his campaign). 

Australian Motorists Party

They are not opposed to light rail, but don't consider it viable. Curiously, they did issue a policy proposing a tunnel running underground from the Barton Highway under Civic to Commonwealth Avenue. To confuse matters even further, they would include light rail in this plan. 

The Pirate Party

Pro-bus. They don't even mention light rail in their transport policy. 

Australian Democrats

Darren Churchill is running as an independent, but is a member of the Australian Democrats. At a community meeting on 16 October 2012, he stated that the Australian Democrats are in favour of light rail, and have been for many years. 

On his website, this can be found:

"Work to build an overarching transport plan that includes a comprehensive bus service with late-night and weekend coverage to get you where you want, when you want and integrates a light rail network;"

Marion Le's Social Justice Party

At a community meeting on 16 October 2012, Marion Le stated that she was in favour of light rail. The party does not appear to have an online presence. 

Who to vote for? 

ACT Light Rail make no recommendation to you - we would like you to read this information, seek out information for yourself and form your own opinion. 

Please vote on October 20 and consider the best person and party to represent your interests, beliefs and concerns. We trust that the information on this page can assist you in reaching an informed view.  

Declaration of vested interest - Damien Haas, ACT Light Rail Chair, has been assisting Matt Watts, a Liberal candidate for Ginninderra in his 2012 election campaign. Matt Watts is a member of ACT Light Rail. In any media appearance, or when lobbying to any person or party since August 2012, Mr Haas has declared this. Mr Haas is not a member of the Liberal party. No other member of ACT Light Rail has been involved in Mr Watts campaign. 

ACT Light Rail contains members of all political parties who share a common view that light rail is the best mass transit option for Canberra's future, and work to achieve that aim. 

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