ACT News


Tuggeranong majority rails against tram

The strongest opposition to a tram is in the south, a survey of more than 6000 people suggests, with 68 per cent of Tuggeranong residents saying Canberra doesn't need light rail.

More than 60 per cent of Tuggeranong participants in the survey at ranked the tram line as unimportant.

Asked to rank it against other projects – a rapid bus network, new hospital, stadium, convention centre and pool – they ranked it last.

Almost 60 per cent of the 920 residents who nominated Tuggeranong as their home said the tram would make them less likely to vote Labor, and 50 per cent said they were more likely to vote Liberal.

The results are almost as stark in Woden and Weston Creek, with the only pockets of majority support for the tram found north of the lake.

If that response holds true in 2016, it's a result that boosts the Liberals' chance of retaining the third seat in Tuggeranong, and winning a third in a new Woden-Weston electorate, where people are equally as opposed to the tram line.


A majority in the two southernmost electorates pushes the Liberals closer to government but they also need a third seat (or a friendly independent) in the central, Belconnen or Gungahlin electorates to form government. 

While other issues will be at play, the ACT government's fortunes at the election will be tied inextricably to the tram, given plans to start construction just months ahead of the election.

The survey, over three days last week, suggests opposition is also high in Belconnen, where Labor holds three of the five seats.

In Belconnen, 59 per cent of respondents say the city does not need light rail while 36 per cent like it.

Fifty per cent of Belconnen participants in the survey say they are less likely to vote Labor because of the tram and 43 per cent are more likely to vote Liberal.

Tuggeranong residents approached on Monday had mixed views. 

Mother-of-two Heather Tricker said she would support a Canberra-wide network.

"I would definitely use it if it came to Tuggeranong," she said. 

Lorraine O'Brien is on board, saying she would consider voting for Labor because of the project. 

"I think it will reduce the traffic in Canberra and make it easier for people to get to work," she said.

Mark Bellwood said he didn't think light rail was sustainable in Canberra.  

"I am against it if it isn't going to make a profit or isn't viable," he said.

"I'd rather see them spend that money on a lot of other things as it could become a drain on the community and cause a lot of problems. It is an issue for me at the election."

Nicole Turner said "it was a stupid amount of money" but she wouldn't oppose a tram line across the city.  

"It is more a case of the bus system needing to be better. It is appalling."

The self-selecting survey attracted a good spread in the age and location of respondents, with about 1000 people from each of Tuggeranong (920), Belconnen (1160), Gungahlin (1140), and the inner north (1070), and 400 to 500 responses from each of Woden, Weston Creek and the inner south.

The opposition of residents in Tuggeranong, Woden and Weston presumably reflects the route from Gungahlin to the city but also the age of participants. Opposition grows with age. Of people aged 35 to 50, 52 per cent are against the tram. Of those aged 50 to 65, 67 per cent oppose it, and three-quarters of people aged 65-plus are opposed.

Support is highest among those aged under 35, who live in greater numbers in the inner north, Gungahlin and Belconnen, but even among that age group, it is not overwhelming. Fifty-seven per cent of those under 35 say Canberra needs light rail but 37 per cent to 40 per cent disagree.

While support is highest in Gungahlin and the inner north, even there it only reaches 52 per cent or 53 per cent, with 43 per cent to 45 per cent opposing the tram line.

Almost 40 per cent of inner north residents say they are more likely to vote Labor because of the tram.

In Gungahlin, voters are evenly split, with 37 per cent saying the tram will make them more likely to vote Labor and 38 per cent saying they are less likely to vote Labor.

Significantly, supporters of the tram still appear to rank buses and a new public hospital as more important. In Gungahlin and the inner north, the tram ranks third behind buses and the hospital. 

Dislike for the route from Gungahlin to the city draws a stronger response than dislike for the tram itself across all age groups. Among those who like it, fewer like the route; among those who oppose it, more oppose the route. 

Canberra Times light rail survey results by region


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