Wednesday 19th Dec, 2018

Expert backs Canberra light rail jobs figures

Capital Metro. Graphic: Capital Metro
Graphic: Capital Metro

A union-commissioned report from Macquarie University researcher Dr Sasha Holley has supported the job creation potential of the proposed ACT Light Rail project, countering reports that job figures were being overstated.

Holley, an expert in public policy, backed May 2014 analysis from Ernst & Young, which predicted a total of 3,560 direct and indirect jobs created over the three-year construction period.

The Ernst & Young analysis estimated that after construction, jobs generated by the development of the corridor will steadily grow, reaching 1,830 in 2027, and 5,000 in 2047.

Holley said between 50 and 60% of jobs generated would be new positions, while the remaining 40 to 50% would be jobs displacing existing jobs in the ACT economy.

“This means that a substantial portion of the jobs will be creating new opportunities for unemployed ACT workers,” Holley said.

The Holley report is in contrast to a report put together by transport consultant Bob Nairn roughly two months ago, after Nairn was commissioned by the opposition ACT Liberal party.

The Nairn report criticised the light rail plan, saying it would not create as many jobs as the government expected.

Holley, however, suggested the Nairn report “misses the point,” because it does not look broadly enough at the knock-on benefits of a light rail network.

“The light rail is being introduced to Canberra to transform the city from having an economy dependent on Commonwealth public service employment, to a diversified economy with employment available across a range of high-skill/knowledge and lower skill jobs,” Holley argued.

“A successful project will see the Canberra economy expand and diversify as knowledge workers move into the attractive, connected and convenient Gungahlin corridor, and less skilled workers follow to provide support services (e.g. restaurants, entertainment and other services) for the new knowledge economy.”

Alex White, secretary of UnionsACT, which commissioned the Holley report, welcomed its findings.

“This independent assessment has looked at the claims made about light rail with a critical eye,” White said. “The jobs that will be created by light rail are both from the direct construction work, and the economic stimulus created as a result of development along the corridor.”

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