The ACT government has defended pitching the city to Gungahlin tram line to international financiers at a cost of $900 million at the same time as telling the community the project would cost between $600 and $800 million.
A letter of introduction, signed by a Land Development Agency official in September 2014 and obtained by The Canberra Times, includes the Barr government's wish list of planned infrastructure projects, put forward for finance and investment.
It authorises a business person working overseas to discuss six major Canberra projects, including stage one of light rail, described as costing "up to AUD900m, with further stages in excess of AUD1b".
The project's final business case, released two months after the letter was signed, costs the 12 kilometre tram line at $610 million with a $173 million contingency for construction.
The recipient of the letter is authorised to discuss the projects to determine the level of interest and commitment of wealthy financial backers overseas.
Private naming rights for some of the Canberra projects are also canvassed in the letter.
Other projects included in the letter are a new non-acute hospital and education centre costing about $200 million; a major arterial road realignment costing up to $350 million; an international standard convention centre at about $400 million; a "new elite rectangle football and entertainment centre" costing $350 million and an aquatic centre costing $100 million.
The letter also raises the prospect of direct international flights to Canberra from further afield than Asia, a long-held ambition of the government to increase travel spending, tourism and investment.
Questions to Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell this week were referred to Chief Minister Andrew Barr's office and then on to Economic Development Directorate Director-General David Dawes.
Mr Dawes said the letter detailing potential future projects in the ACT was requested by a third party to take to their investors and included estimate costs.
"These were indicative figures, which were an official's best guess almost a year ago," he said.
"They related to a discussion which took place before the light rail business case had been finalised. These indicative figures were designed to give a preliminary idea of the type and size of potential infrastructure projects in the ACT."
The government was not actively seeking finance for any further stages of light rail, Mr Dawes said.
He did not directly address why the government was pitching the projects in a letter of introduction for finance discussions overseas when stage one of Canberra's light rail will be built and operated by a private consortium.
Mr Dawes said it was common for governments to discuss international investments.
"The approach was made to the government, not the other way round," Mr Dawes said. "These discussions took place almost a year ago."
"Other potential investors haven't required a letter," he said.
In a separate development last week, the Liberal opposition look set to use a new website to continue their campaign against the light rail project.
Transport spokesman Alistair Coe has registered lightrailcanberra.com, which asks visitors to give feedback on the project and provide their contact details.
Political parties regularly use online surveys and similar websites to collect personal information on voters, including for campaign databases and fundraising mailing lists.
The Liberals have attracted widespread business and political criticism for plans to pay compensation to the consortium picked to build the line as it moves to stop light rail.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week encouraged other states and territories to follow the ACT's lead in using infrastructure sales to fund public transport. Mr Coe and Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson remain at odds with Mr Abbott over infrastructure contracts.
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