Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell has vowed to keep spruiking the controversial project's benefits despite a new poll that showed more Canberrans were against construction of a light rail system than in favour of it.
The results prompted the opposition to accuse the government of being out of touch with voters and call for them not to sign any contracts related to the major infrastructure project before the next election.
Figures from the opinion poll, which was commissioned by the trade union movement and asked 1446 residents if they supported light rail or opposed it, flew in the face of the ACT government's earlier claims of the project's public popularity.
The Unions ACT polling found 46.3 opposed the concept of light rail, 38.8 per cent supported it and 14.9 per cent were undecided. It had an error margin of 2.5 per cent.
That was compared to 55 per cent support for a light rail system recorded in ACT government-commissioned research in August 2014.
Asked if they would be "more or less likely to support light rail if it created 3500 jobs in Canberra during construction", 38.6 per cent said they were more likely to support light rail and 25.3 per cent said they were less likely.
It was those figures that Mr Corbell focused on as he said the poll represented "a snapshot in time" on Thursday.
"This is a controversial project and there's no clear majority in favour, or against, and that's similar to the experience in other cities.
"What I am very encouraged about is that when asked if they would support the project because it delivers 3500 jobs, the majority of Canberrans say yes."
Opposition transport spokesman Alistair Coe said the polling showed Chief Minister Andrew Barr was out of touch.
"The Barr government can no longer claim to have the support of the majority of Canberrans for the light rail project, given the results."
But Mr Corbell said it was easy to construct a case about why a plan such as the proposed light rail system shouldn't go ahead and he would continue to sell a positive message about the project.
"It's about fixing our traffic congestion, it's about delivering a billion dollars worth of economic benefits and it's about creating 3500 jobs."
Mr Coe said the government was losing the argument on light rail and was "clinging to the fact that it's spending a billion dollars as being the benefit".
"Only by including the promise of 3500 jobs, can they garner even the slightest level of support."
He said there were "many ways you could spend a billion dollars in Canberra" and the government needed to prioritise projects.
"Light rail is not wanted by the taxpayers of Canberra and therefore it's incumbent on the government to respect their views and not sign contracts before the next election."
Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson ramped up his party's opposition to light rail earlier this month when he warned companies bidding to build the line that a future Liberal government would halt the project.
It caused the union representing engineers to hit out at both parties, saying major infrastructure projects were not the place to play politics.
Engineers Australia Canberra division president Neil Greet said it was in the ACT's long term interests that both sides of politics committed to "better planning processes" for the light rail project.
"The politically-driven infrastructure delivery cycle is damaging Australia's ability to build a sustainable domestic professional engineering workforce."
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