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Re: "Light rail contracts won't be signed before ACT election, Barr confirms" (canberratimes.com.au, August 14) and "Another light rail election on track after Libs slam contract delays" (canberratimes.com.au, August 20). These reports float the possibility light rail could well become a major issue in the October election. But will it?
Steel and Barr have cited several reasons for the delay, including difficulties getting the paperwork in order in time, and the detrimental effect the proposed corridor would have on the habitat of a moth.
Barr has stated he would not release cost estimates for Stage 2, again citing contracting confidentiality as his lame excuse. This does not hold up in the real world of major contract management given there is a sole-source supplier. Such chutzpa, such arrogance.
One can be almost certain that the statements are part of the Labor/Greens re-election strategy. But why? Is it possible that Stage 1, at $1.6 billion in real terms, is making too great a dent in the budget, and that Stages 2A and 2B, at twice or more the cost, is a bit too much to justify? Or is it simply a case of trying to wedge the Liberals in forcing it as an issue?
The Liberals have said they are not against light rail in principle but, if elected, would need to review the cost-effectiveness of Stage 2A and 2B before any decision is taken. This is an essential, and financially prudent, requirement, and a defensible promise.
Light rail has never made economic or practical sense in a spread-out city like Canberra. It was nothing less than a sop to the Greens for their vote.
One can only hope a re-elected Rattenbury/Steel/Barr government will come to its economic senses.
M R Flint, co-ordinator,
Smart Canberra Transport
This article first appeared on www.canberratimes.com.au
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