Monday 28th May, 2018

Canberra Light Rail to face Federal inquiry

CAF tram arriving in Canberra. Photo: Canberra Metro
CAF tram arriving in Canberra. Photo: Canberra Metro

Stage 2 of Canberra’s light rail line will be put under the microscope after the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories launched an inquiry into the project.

A portion of the planned route for the second stage of the ACT’s light rail project, which will link Civic in Canberra’s centre, to Woden in the south, will cross through what is effectively federal land, near Parliament House.

As a result, the joint standing committee, which also handles matters like Australia’s Antarctic territory, will conduct a parliamentary inquiry into whether the Commonwealth should approve the project.

The project has drawn criticism from federal senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja, a Liberal who has criticised ACT Labor’s process throughout the light rail project’s development.

Seselja on Friday called the parliamentary inquiry a “good result,” according to the Canberra Times.

“The initial proposal of ACT Labor to remove lanes from Commonwealth Avenue and bottleneck traffic into and out of the city vindicates my position that this inquiry is necessary to ensure the best outcome for Canberrans,” he was quoted as saying.

In launching the inquiry, National Capital and External Territories committee chair Ben Morton, a Liberal who represents the WA seat of Tangney, said given the proposed route crosses through federal land, the project concerns all Australians.

“The land around the Federal Parliament is an important space for all Australians, and it is therefore appropriate that the Parliament has a role in ensuring that any proposals for change preserve this significance,” he said.

“The inquiry will also provide the ACT Government with an early indication of the Parliament’s view of its proposal.”

According to the inquiry announcement, the committee will consider:

  • the relevant parliamentary approval processes for works within the Parliamentary zone;
  • the roles of the National Capital Authority and the Australian Government, and the associated approval processes;
  • possible impacts on the Parliamentary zone and Parliamentary precincts;
  • possible impacts on the heritage values and national importance of the Parliamentary zone and the national capital; and
  • matters that may be of concern prior to formal Parliamentary or Commonwealth consideration of the project.

Written submissions addressing one or more of the terms of reference are welcome until June 15.

  • Andrew Corby

    This reeks of a political hatchet-job. But I never understood why stage 2 wasn’t a line through Russell to increase patronage.

    • Martin Silsby

      Hi Andrew,

      Yes, it is a bit of a hatchet job. The Libs never do well in the ACT – we have had 16+ years of a labor territory government. Interestingly, those most against light rail seem to be white males over the age of 50 and who never catch public transport. Now which political party chases those voters? As such, Zed is hoping to create a few headlines for the Libs at a territory level.

      As for why stage two is going via Barton to Woden, this is being done because it will lead to the biggest passenger boost of all the network expansion options, as well as for political reasons – People don’t live in Russel, but they do live in Woden. This also plays nicely with the Woden urban renewal focus – think the squeaky wheel getting the oil.

      There is also the fact that the Russell option makes more sense if it goes through to the airport – but at this stage, the airport isn’t wanting to contribute funds. And the fact that the NSW government has indicated that medium term, it sees sense in funding light rail from Queenbeyan, which would be easiest done as an extension from Barton along the existing heavy rail corridor.

      Democracy – the best political system money can buy…

      • Andrew Corby

        Thanks for the reply

        I used to work in Russell and there are 10000 people working there (or something like that). I would have thought that for a couple of extra km you could connect the workers of the north to a massive employment area.

        Does Anzac Parade being in the middle have anything to do with it as well?

Send this to friend