Canberra Airport manager of planning and environment Kathryn Scarano's assertion that the airport would be included as a potential route in stage two of the light rail project and the government's subsequent rebuttal raise a myriad of questions.
Ms Scarano's speech, at a North Canberra Community Council meeting on April 17, was made in front of scores of taxpayers and potential light-rail users – hardly an utterance in a closed session meeting.
A senior airport figure would not have the slightest inclination to reveal information about a major transport or infrastructure link involving the ACT government, or the no-less-divisive light rail project, without express confidence the information that they were divulging was sound.
A spokesman for Deputy Chief Minister Simon Corbell said discussions about future stages would take the form of public consultation, but Ms Scarano's revelation the airport is already under consideration throws that assertion into some doubt.
The government has pinned its future survival on the success or failure of the tram. But the project is unlikely to succeed without the community on board and involved in the decision-making process. The tram is after all an asset being built for the community to use – it makes sense that those users should have a say in where it goes.
An opaque business case didn't help the initial sell of Capital Metro and, as it's a community asset, the community should have major imput into its construction and any consultation over proposed routes.
The Sunday Canberra Times understands the airport route is one of several in discussion for the big ticket project's second phase – even though ground hasn't been broken for phase one. If that is the case, why is the public not yet being invited to contribute to the debate on those routes?
Long-term planning makes sense, but getting into the details of where stage two will go would seem premature when there is still much work to be done getting the first tracks down.
Notwithstanding the imposition on the government's coffers, an airport link would bring Canberra in line with other major destinations by providing easily accessible airport links.
The airport has long lobbied for a light-rail link to the city, releasing its own ambitious three-stage plan in 2013.
It's time to bring the community into the discussion.
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