The Canberra Liberals have slammed the ACT Government for infrastructure mismanagement, following reports the extension of the Light Rail would be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
ACT Transport Minister Chris Steel said contracts associated with Stage 2a were yet to be signed, but that he hoped construction would start next financial year.
“COVID-19 has affected the original timeframes for planning approvals and contract signing; however, the government still expects that works will be able to start as early as next financial year,” Mr Steel said.
“The ACT Government is working closely with Canberra Metro to progress contract negotiations; however, the ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19 continues to impact contract timeframes.
“As a Public-Private Partnership, understanding and managing the risk associated with this uncertainty is essential to ensure Canberrans get value for money in the contract.”
Canberra Liberals Leader Alistair Coe said details around Stage 2a lacked transparency, and a question remained around the full cost and benefits of the projects.
“Light Rail Stage 2 is a great mystery to many Canberrans, and it seems it’s a mystery to the government as well,” he said.
“This government has themselves to blame if they aren’t able to get a contract signed and if they’re not able to get a good deal.
“The fact they have picked a winner and they’re still not able to negotiate (the contract) shows that their mismanagement of this has been epic.”
Mr Steel assured that despite economic pressure from COVID-19, the project was still within the Territory’s budget and would go ahead.
“Investing in infrastructure is a sensible response to an economic downturn, however, the government also needs to ensure that it is receiving value for money,” he said.
“We are completely committed to bringing light rail to Woden and only a Labor Government can be trusted to build light rail to Woden. We got a great outcome on stage 1 and we will deliver stage 2.”
There remains uncertainty around if an ACT Liberal Government would commit to Stage 2 of the project past this October’s election.
“In principle, the Canberra Liberals do see the extension of light rail at some point as an appropriate thing to do. However, we will do so prudently, and we will do so knowing all the costs and benefits,” said Mr Coe.
“It’s very hard to make any commitment when the Government refuses to reveal this information.”