Monday, September 28, 2015

Business groups slam Canberra Liberals anti light rail stance

To date, not one business group or peak body has opposed the Capital Metro public transport infrastructure project supported by popular vote at the 2012 Assembly election. 

On 28 September 2015, three leading business groups sent a jointly signed letter to the Canberra Liberals urging them to abandon their anti light rail stance. Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia chief executive Brendan Lyon and Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox​ have co-signed a letter to the Canberra Liberals urging them to reconsider their strategy. 

The three peak business groups warn that cancellation of the $783 million light rail contract would

  • damage Australia's international reputation as a stable market for investment,  
  • have a significant impact on local employment, and 
  • damage economic development in the territory.

The letter comes after federal Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs warned the Canberra Liberals not to cancel contracts after the 2016 election, describing it as "economic lunacy".

The letter has been reported on in the Australian Financial Review here, ABC Online here and the Canberra Times here.  

IPA chief executive Brendan Lyon said Australia needed investment to fill the infrastructure gap and grow the economy beyond the resources boom. He said voiding light rail contracts would damage the national interest, and cost Canberra dearly in compensation.

"Australia has a hard-won reputation as one of the world's safest places to invest, but the axing of Victoria's East West Link contract has already damaged that standing,"  

"We have no tradition of incoming governments using their lawmaking powers to dud businesses by avoiding their legal obligations under contracts.

"These sovereign-type risks are usually associated with countries with weak formal institutions, not modern global economies like Australia."

"As we have seen with the East West Link disaster in Victoria, tearing up legally binding infrastructure contracts raises sovereign risk, damages investor confidence and stifles economic growth,"  

The three business groups warned that cancelling the light rail contracts would only make infrastructure projects more expensive.
"While we respect your principled opposition to the Capital Metro project itself, we note that a valid contract will be in pace – and construction underway – well before next year's election,"
"If the light-rail contract was cancelled, the cost and risk of doing business in the Territory would rise. It is in the ACT's own interest to avoid sovereign-type risks in Australia's infrastructure market."
"Australia's executive governments have long observed a tradition -– with some regrettable exceptions – of respecting contracts entered into by their predecessors, even where such contracts prove politically inconvenient,"  

"This provides the basis for businesses of all sizes to work with government without fear that political change might see arrangements change, bills unpaid or contracts cancelled."

"Cancelling multi-million dollar contracts is a false economy, because investors and contractors will factor in the costs of sovereign risk into Canberra's next project – and all the ones which follow."

Mr Lyons said he was not sure the Canberra Liberals were aware of the damage they were doing internationally to Australia's reputation for infrastructure investment.

"The process of writing to bidders saying such things has triggered alarm bells in Paris, Sydney and across the world,"  

"It is entirely their right and obligation to question large-scale spending decisions by the government but there is a strong tradition of not engaging and causing sovereign risk."

"It is in the ACT's own interest to avoid sovereign-type risks in Australia's infrastructure market, we respectfully urge you to reconsider this policy."

ABC Canberra TV News story

WIN Canberra TV News story

For more frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news, please visit our Facebook page 'Light Rail for Canberra'.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Minister Rattenbury condemns 1960's era 'roads only' policies of the Canberra Liberals

Greens MLA and TAMS Minister Shane Rattenbury has issued a press release slamming the Canberra Liberals approach to public transport. The Canberra Liberals have consistently opposed the Capital Metro light rail project, and have promised to cancel any contracts signed by the ACT Government if they are elected in the 2016 Assembly elections (a move described as economic lunacy by the federal Liberal government). 

Todays press release attacks the Canberra Liberals complete lack of public transport policy, and their 1960's style focus on roads ahead of sound urban planning.  

Press release starts:

Liberals miss the point of improved public transport

The Canberra Liberals have completely missed the point of providing Canberrans with a comprehensive public transport network and instead want to clog our city with more cars and more roads in a 1960’s view of traffic management, said ACT Greens MLA, Shane Rattenbury.
“The whole concept of having a good public transport network is not to make life harder for those who need to use their car – it’s about getting more cars off the road so that those who need to use their cars aren’t faced with increased delays due to congestion,” said Mr Rattenbury.
“As the saying goes ‘if you build it they will come’ – the more roads we build, the more cars we will attract and the more congestion we will see on our roads.
“This is a lesson that has been learnt in cities all across the world and we see many cities trying to play catch-up to improve their public transport systems to address congestion.
“The ACT Greens understand that of course there are always going to be times when people need to use their cars – parents who need to pick up their kids or tradespeople who work across the city.
“However, there are many Canberrans who could quite easily ditch their car and hop on a bus or a tram to get to and from their destination.  It is these people who we are targeting with a new light rail network and improvements across our bus network.
“The point of public transport is not to force people out of their cars; it’s to provide viable and sustainable options for people who don’t need to drive and ease congestion on our roads for those who do need to drive.
“The last thing we want is for people to be stuck in traffic on Canberra’s roads – that’s not fun for anybody.  And under a Liberal government, that’s where Canberrans will be stuck in the future,” said Mr Rattenbury.

For more frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news, please visit our Facebook page 'Light Rail for Canberra'.  

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Chief Minister loves light rail!

Always nice to see one of our 'I love light rail' stickers in the wild. Thank you Chief Minister Andrew Barr!

For more frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news, please visit our Facebook page 'Light Rail for Canberra'.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Majority of Canberrans support Capital Metro light rail for Canberra - new poll results

The majority of Canberrans now want a construction of a light rail system. This is reflected in a new poll by Unions ACT. In an online poll of over 1000 Canberrans, 63% now support light rail.

A similar poll conducted by Unions ACT poll in June 2015 found that at that time 46 per cent of Canberrans opposed light rail.

WIN Canberra TV News carried the story as an exclusive on 18 September 2015, and spoke to Unions ACT Alex White about the survey.

For more frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news, please visit our Facebook page 'Light Rail for Canberra'.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Wire free light rail mandated for Civic to Russell extension of Capital Metro Stage One

A modern French wire free light rail vehicle in Tours, France (Robert Knight)

At a Gungahlin Community Council meeting on 9 September 2015, Capital Metro Director of Procurement and Delivery, Steve Allday, advised that the two consortiums bidding for the Capital Metro project, would be delivering their bids for the Russell extension in a months time, and that the bids would have to be for wire free light rail.

He said that the NCA required wire free operation in the National Capital Area, and that as a result the light rail extension from Civic to Russell would have to be a wire free design.

Mr Allday said that this technology was already in use internationally, and there were several different options that could be utilised. Light rail vehicles would take power from an overhead wire, and then rely on a battery or super-capacitor for limited distances. Although there were technical challenges with current technology that limited the distances that wire free operation could be used. This meant that light rail vehicles for Capital Metro Stage One were likely to be powered by an overhead wire.

The photo above, of a modern light rail vehicle in Tours, France, uses power from a third rail in the road surface.

ACT Light Rail are aware that the NCA had previously indicated that any light rail extension across Lake Burley Griffin would have to use wire free technology, and Capital Metro had factored this into the technical requirements that the two consortiums had based their Stage One bids on. Capital Metro have never proscribed whether the light rail technology chosen by the successful bidder, for Stage One, was wire free or used a catenary wire (in use by all light rail systems in Australia at present).

For more frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news, please visit our Facebook page 'Light Rail for Canberra'.