Sunday, October 16, 2016

Canberra supports light rail future with re-elected Barr government

Thank you to all supporters of light rail and improved public transport in Canberra. Your votes have secured a very different Canberra that will be able to grow without gridlock and increased road congestion. It will be  able to offer  a scalable public transport system that can grow as our population and urban form grows. It was not the only issue that the election was decided upon, but it was a major one.

If there are political lessons to be learnt they are firstly that the Canberra public want our city to grow and avoid the transport problems that other car dominated capitals have. We are on that cusp, and have decided to go another way. The second and bigger lesson is that we are not fools and negative political campaigning just doesn't work. We will support and vote for a positive achievable vision.

It has been a hard slog for all, but at last the four year election campaign has been decided. It has been a definitive rout of regressive negative politics. The Canberra of the future will have an integrated public transport system with light rail at its backbone, and more frequent local bus services.
  • Stage One from Gungahlin to Civic will be built and commence service by 2019. 
  • Stage Two from Civic to Woden will have a series of studies prepared, culminating with a business case that may recommend construction. 
  • An expanded rapid bus service will be extended to several group centres
  • Proper planning for further light rail stages can continue 
  • A compact liveable city with Transit Oriented Development and more density, will emerge around transit corridors
These positive planning and transport policies can now occur with certainty as the Barr government has been returned with a likely coalition government with the Greens to be formed, once firm Assembly numbers are known. The polling booths closed at 6PM on October 15th and by 10PM the Chief Minister had announced the ALP were in a position to form Government, and opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson had conceded defeat.

That the positive election result was known so quickly, demonstrates confidence in the Governments plans. It was a resounding 'yes' for light rail.

For four years the Canberra Liberals had fought a relentlessly negative and dishonest campaign with false claims about costs and spending. These false and deceptive claims continued to the day of the election and it was a refreshing sign of a healthy democracy that the people of Canberra looked beyond the smear  campaign and neglectful and lazy journalistic coverage from the Canberra Times, to form a view that resoundingly supports a light rail future.

However, the negative campaign is now history. The light rail debate has been resolved and it will be built. Stage One will be the first of five planned stages that will reshape our city and lead to better land use, higher standards of living, less road congestion and a more compact livable city. 

The overwhelming endorsement of public transport at this election should be taken to heart by the Canberra Liberals. They should be proactive in creating light rail and public transport policy, and they should be cooperative and not obstructionist as further light rail stages, especially the Woden route, are planned and constructed.

Supporters of light rail in the community, including the 1300 strong members of ACT Light Rail, always knew the public supported better public transport. Now its future is secure.
Canberra Times coverage
Election win shows comprehensive support for light rail
Labor confident of win - expected to form government with Greens
Triumph for Labor - wakeup call for Liberals 
Disappointing Hanson admits defeat at ACT election
Back to the drawing board for all sides
Labor victory a rejection of narrow minded fundamental conservatism

ABC Online coverage
Light rail in balance as Canberra heads to the polls
Labor claims victory, says Canberra voted for light rail
Feeling of exasperation as Canberra Liberals fall short
Where to now for Liberal leadership?

Television coverage of the election result

ABC TV news Canberra carried this report on Sunday 16 October 2016:
Part One
Part Two

WIN TV News Canberra carried this report on Monday 17 October 2016:

A few radio interviews were quite informative:

ABC radio carried this interview on Monday 17 October with Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury about what happens next

Duration: 7min 20sec Broadcast: Mon 17 Oct 2016, 5:30am

"The ACT Election finished on Saturday night but the final preference counting will continue for most of this week.
What will the larger Legislative Assembly chamber mean? How about negotiations for a new Labor-Greens Government?
Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury talk to 666 ABC Canberra breakfast host Philip Clark about what happens next."

Originally on this ABC webpage

ABC radio carried this interview with Liberal MLA Alistair Coe after the election.

Duration: 11min 57sec Broadcast: Mon 17 Oct 2016, 3:00pm

"After appearing to be within reach of Government for the first time in 15 years the Canberra Liberals lost the election by an increased margin compared to 2012, and it's raised questions over the position of leader Jeremy Hanson.
Mr Coe explained the ground campaign of Labor and the complexity of the light rail issue could have been contributing factors to the Liberals' loss.
He also told Adam Shirley on 666 ABC Canberra that he did not see Mr Hanson's statement that he argued against light rail "exceptionally well, but perhaps not well enough" as a criticism."

Originally on this ABC webpage.

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

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