We need the truth about light rail
WHEN it comes to the light rail, it's a clear case of the desperate and dateless.
It's obvious there will never be a love match at the end of this tunnel … pro and anti campaigners are still spitting vitriol online and political parties are pitching their pennants on whichever side of the tracks appears more popular.
But what we so desperately need right now are community leaders committed to telling the objective truth. Because right now, both sides - at all levels - are falling woefully short.
Let's start with the man in charge, State Transport Minister Mark Bailey - who has been challenged by Burleigh MP Michael Hart to hold a community forum with himself and area city councillor Daphne McDonald by May 31.
Given Mr Hart has vowed to "protect" the Minister from outraged residents desperate to attend this blisteringly hot date, I'd say Mr Bailey is well within his rights to burn that invitation in the bin.
Mr Bailey is doing himself - and us - a huge disservice by being less than transparent about the project's controversial Stage 4 route.
I understand his reticence, it's extremely difficult in this climate to even attempt any form of mature discussion without one - or both - sides cherrypicking statements that suit their argument.
But he needs to just be honest.
In my opinion, the light rail will be fantastic for the city as a whole, but I understand it's less than ideal for some Palm Beach residents. That doesn't mean they can hold the city to ransom, but it does mean they are owed an explanation and the details - good and bad - of what this public transportation network will mean for them.
The truth is going to get out, so get on the front foot and tell it to us straight. Sure, many will shoot the messenger, but that's what being a leader means - you have to cop the consequences of difficult decisions.
Some may like it, some may not, but people respond to authenticity.
But that's just one side of the political tracks.
On the other, not only do we have Mr Hart issuing his invitation to the lion's den, but now the Member for McPherson Karen Andrews has invited residents to complete a "30-second light rail survey".
"The Gold Coast light rail is a state government public transport project, which has been partly funded by the federal government," she writes.
"This year, work will commence on Stage 3A, from Broadbeach to Burleigh. As the federal representative of the southern Gold Coast, I am interested in your views on the intended extension from Burleigh to the Gold Coast Airport."
However, it seems to me this survey was intended not so much to provide an objective snapshot of what our whole community feels about light rail, but to provide some back up in terms of statistics to boost the anti-rail campaigners' arguments.
Which is precisely why it is going viral among its intended recipients - the anti-light rail groups.
Witness the bias contained in questions such as: "Do you think there should be an option for the light rail to go west to connect with the heavy rail?"
The optional answers are "Yes" or "No".
As a respondent, I honestly didn't know which to tick. I mean, yes, there should be an option for the light rail to go west … but no, not at the expense or instead of the Gold Coast Highway route from Burleigh to the airport.
Sure, there was space to provide details of your answer, but that's not going to fit into statistics, is it? Instead, it will just be a neat "X per cent support the light rail heading west", regardless of whether they see that as an addition rather than alternative to the Gold Coast Highway route.
I commend the idea of a citywide survey about light rail, but lament its execution. Any scientist would debunk this as anything but an objectively worded questionnaire, while any lawyer would label these questions as leading.
Again, let's just be honest.
If you're looking for objections to the light rail, just say so - there are dozens of online forums standing by to help.
As for the rest of us, in the words of John Lennon, we're just desperate for our leaders to gimme some truth.
Alas, in the words of Elvis, it seems the only date we're promised is at the Heartbreak Hotel.
Originally published as We need the truth about light rail