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TEARING up the light rail contract would have `catastrophic ramifications' for the Gold Coast long after the tracks were ripped up, says a well-respected local businessman.
Murray d'Almeida said if the public-private partnership agreement -- the contract that ties in three levels of government with global banks and the contractor GoldLinQ to build the light rail -- were torn up, the city's reputation would be in ruins.
"It would be terrible for the perception of the Gold Coast and more than that, it would reinforce what many people already think of us," he said.
"Tearing up a contract would undermine the fabric of commerce and industry and it would see people not only lose confidence in doing business in the Gold Coast, but the whole political process.
"People rely upon certainty and a contract is meant to provide that."
Another person close to the project said it would be `disastrous' to tear up the light rail contract.
"The Federal Government would never fund another infrastructure project on the Gold Coast and we would be lucky if the state did as well," he said.
Transport Minister Scott Emerson said the State Government supported the project now, as it did in Opposition, and it would definitely go ahead.
He said it had long-term benefits and any moratorium would cost taxpayers `many, many millions of dollars'.
Mr Emerson said the private sector needed confidence in a government to enter into public-private partnerships, which could be lost if the project was dumped part-way through.
GoldLinQ chairman John Witheriff said hundreds of millions of dollars had been spent and 6000 people would be employed during construction.
"If we don't go ahead and deal with the public transport issue we'll create a city that's unliveable and that would be the greatest tragedy of all," he said.
He said construction would be finished in the latter part of 2013, followed by a testing phase before its expected opening in June 2014.
Ending the light rail could also affect how the Commonwealth Games is delivered.
Without the proposed light rail, the city might have missed out on securing the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Gold Coast Commonwealth Games CEO Mark Peters said the light rail and the city's connectivity were aspects of the bid that helped secure the games.
"In the bid we looked at the light rail and how it linked the village. It was seen as a positive," said Mr Peters.
Gold Coast Rapid Transit boss Anna Carroll said the issues raised by those trying to stop the project had been addressed.
This article first appeared on www.goldcoast.com.au
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