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Light rail and renewable energy return Labor to government in ACT

Canberra looks set to continue progress on the Capital Metro Light Rail and the ACT Government’s 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020 target, with the Labor party establishing a slim but workable majority following the ACT election on Saturday.

Current counting shows Labor likely to hold 12 seats in the ACT Legislative Assembly, the Greens two seats and the Canberra Liberals 11 seats.

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Andrew Barr

This will be the territory’s fifth consecutive Labour government since 2001, with Labor’s Andrew Barr set to continue as ACT chief minister.

The Greens went into the election with clear support for both light rail and the renewable energy target.

The Liberals had gone into the election pledging to scrap light rail, and released a policy promoting more buses and eight new rapid bus transit routes instead.

ACT public transport Lobby group, ACT Light Rail welcomed the Labor win, saying the community could now be sure the project would proceed.

The group undertook an analysis of whether the light rail was a vote winner, and found that the proximity of a polling place to the planned light rail route from Gungahlin to Civic increased the Labor primary vote by 10 to 15 per cent.

The Gungahlin to Civic route is now expected to be operational by 2019, and feasibility studies are underway for a second stage from Civic to Woden.

The renewable energy target was possibly another deal-breaker that contributed to a swing against the ACT Liberals of more than three per cent.

While Canberra Liberals had given bipartisan support to the target, the party’s federal counterparts announced opposition to high independent targets such as the ACT’s in the weeks prior to the election.

Chief economist for The Australia Institute, Richard Denniss was among those tweeting his congratulations for the win.

“The ACT just voted for 100 per cent renewables, investment in light rail & land tax, happy to live in progressiveville #auspol,” he wrote

However, there will probably be some frustration for the prime minister Mr Turnbull and his colleagues that they have to continue to come to work in a city that is so determined to proceed down the zero-carbon pathway.

They may even end up catching light rail to get to the office someday.

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