ACT News

Save
Print

Electoral Commission intervenes on 'myth buster' Capital Metro postcards

Capital Metro was forced to pulp "myth buster" tram postcards after Electoral Commissioner Phillip Green intervened, judging they were not properly authorised.

But despite the postcards being destroyed in September, some remained in circulation and were handed out at a Tuggeranong Community Council meeting last month.

It is unclear who provided the postcards for the May meeting, but Capital Metro head Emma Thomas has told Mr Green they were obtained by a third party before the bulk were pulped last year.

The myth buster postcards come in six versions, with statements such as "city to Gungahlin is the wrong route, the population isn't dense enough", and the responding "fact": "Nine of the 10 most densely populated suburbs in Canberra are within two kilometres of the light rail route. Braddon is the most densely populated suburb with 4022 people per square kilometre".

A second myth tackles the oft-cited criticism, "Capital Metro is a tram to nowhere", with the response that the Gungahlin route is only the first stage. And the related criticism, "Light rail will have no benefit to tourists or tourism", with the counter, "good light rail systems have an iconic value that is attractive to tourists".

As for "Buses are better and cheaper than light rail", the myth buster cards counter: "This is not a bus versus light rail debate - it isn't State of Origin."

Advertisement

Capital Metro spent $1900 designing and printing 6000 of the postcards, according to answers to questions on notice put by the Liberals' Alistair Coe. The amount is part of a total of $21,200 spent in the nine months from July last year on promotion and advertising.

Also in the nine months, Capital Metro paid $3 million to its staff and $9.9 million to consultants.

Other than a web link, the postcards do not state who produced them, in contravention of the Electoral Act which requires government material to include the agency and the government.

Liberal Nicole Lawder was at the Tuggeranong Community Council meeting in May and alerted the Electoral Commission to the distribution of the postcards.

In his reply to her, Mr Green agreed "the material does not carry sufficient authorisation" and said he had already alerted Ms Thomas last year. Ms Thomas told him the postcards had been destroyed last September, and she had now contacted the "third party" who distributed them in May and asked the person to destroy any that remained.

Mr Green said Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris, who spoke at the Tuggeranong Community Council that night, had advised that she had not distributed the postcards.

ACT Light Rail chairman Damien Haas was present at the meeting, but wouldn't answer questions about whether he had provided the postcards.

16 comments

Comment are now closed