ACT News


Public service chief tight-lipped on light rail network leak

The ACT's most senior public servant has remained silent on the leaking of sensitive documents related to the government's proposed light rail network. 

Head of Service Kathy Leigh did not answer questions about an investigation into the leaking of the so-called rapid business case for the tram network to The Canberra Times this week.

The Capital Metro Agency used the document to suggest the project's first stage be revised to travel only from Civic to Exhibition Park, and not to Gungahlin as promised by the ACT government.

Written questions to Ms Leigh about the leak investigation went unanswered on Thursday, with a spokeswoman from the Chief Minister and Treasury Directorate confirming only that the matter was "receiving due consideration". 

The spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment further, a day after Attorney-General Simon Corbell gave Ms Leigh responsibility for dealing with the leak.

Initially the government refused to confirm the contents of the document, but Mr Corbell has rejected the idea of staging the line to Gungahlin.


Capital Metro Agency staff used the business case to urge the government to bring forward a decision on the redevelopment of Canberra's Exhibition Park and nearby racecourse, and said infrastructure spending should be prioritised for the Northbourne Avenue corridor. 

Opposition transport spokesman Alistair Coe said plans for light rail in Canberra "were a shambles" and there was insufficient capacity for the Gungahlin line outside the peak period. 

The Canberra Liberals will not proceed with the project if they win the 2016 territory election. 

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said Tuesday's ACT budget would show the government was committed to getting light rail to the investment ready stage.

"The government's got some decisions to take in the second part of this year, which will answer a lot of the questions around updated costs, business case and the first stage of Capital Metro," she said.

"None of those decisions have been taken yet."

Ms Gallagher said the rapid business case had been one of at least six submissions considered by cabinet this week and that its leak had caused frustration. 

"We've got to work through a couple of these issues," she said. "That matter has been reported to the Head of Service and she will need to take the appropriate steps to find out what’s gone on." 

Canberra Racing Club chief executive Peter Stubbs said the document's proposals for the EPIC precinct were premature. 

It suggests a suburban business park, educational facilities, a hotel, private hospital and even places of worship. 

Mr Stubbs said a feasibility study on future racing sites was yet to be completed. 

"Obviously Capital Metro have an agenda and it's their role to develop light rail and I note they are pushing for a resolution on any possible redevelopment but that will have to take its course," he said. 

Capital Region Farmers Market manager Tamara Arnold said most customers at the Saturday morning event travel by car.

She said a light rail service from Civic to Gungahlin would serve the market well. 

"Mostly they drive and park at the market, but there is a small number who also cycle in or walk their dogs," she said.

"More customers through the doors would be great, more support for our farmers would be fantastic. A lot of our customers do come from Civic so if the line didn't service Gungahlin it might reduce the numbers who came."