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Andrew Barr brushes off leaked unions polling commentary on light rail

Andrew Barr's Labor government can "absolutely" win next year's ACT election, even if Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson is successful in framing the vote as a referendum on the light rail line, he says.

Mr Barr sought to brush off leaked polling commentary on Wednesday, which showed members of the trade union movement believes the Canberra Liberals are "winning the referendum" on light rail and Labor's vote is "soft".

The union polling of 1446 Canberrans was done in May, but briefing papers on with commentary was obtained by the Liberals this week. It said the $800 million light rail project remained a "potential vote-changer" at the election, due in October next year.

Mr Barr followed the lead of Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell and said he wouldn't comment on the polling commentary, contained in presentation slides and marked "confidential: not for distribution".

When asked whether they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate that supported light rail, 40 per cent of voters said they were less likely to vote for a pro-tram candidate; 32 per cent were more likely.

"I think I will leave commentary on Unions ACT polls to Unions ACT and others," Mr Barr said during an event at the Canberra Hospital.


"Politicians can always get distracted by political opinion polls and the like. We'll remain focused on governing.

"The election is more than a year away. We've got another budget to deliver and we've got a large number of important projects to deliver for this community."

Among Labor voters, 23 per cent were less likely to vote for a candidate that supported light rail.It also showed 37 per cent of people planned to vote Labor, ahead of 32 per cent for the Liberals and 15 per cent for the Greens. The Greens, who were reduced to one member in 2012, could take heart from the figures, showing their vote had increased from 10.7 per cent at the last election.

Mr Barr said Labor would continue to focus on improving transport infrastructure for Canberra.

"Light rail is an important part of urban renewal, of transport improvement, job creation, and ensuring we're attracting private sector investment into our economy."

He said improved demand-driven public transport options were needed, better bus services and walking and cycling infrastructure.

Two consortiums bidding to build and operate the city-to-Gungahlin line have been asked to provide costings for the first 12 kilometres to the government at the this month. Further information relating to a possible extension to the Defence precinct at Russell is due in October and contract negotiations will take place in the first half of 2016.

Mr Barr led a large contingent of cabinet colleagues, ACT Health officials, staffers and journalists on a tour of extensions at the hospital, ahead of a series of community consultations in Woden this week.

Asked if the government looked like it was on an election footing, he forecast changes in communication methods.

"We're certainly looking to improve our communications with the broader Canberra community," Mr Barr said.

"I've been listening to feedback across the community and people want to hear more about what the ACT government is doing to improve their local areas."