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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (13 May) . . Page.. 1909..


Canberra's assets

MR HARGREAVES (11.39): I wish to speak today about Canberra's assets. We hear a lot about Canberra's unique and special assets. The analysis is usually presented from the perspective of governments or business and in the latter case is usually self-serving and precedes a request for a hand-out or a policy concession.

I look at our assets from the point of view of the ordinary person, the kind of people who live in Tuggeranong, the kind of people who vote for the ALP and whom I am proud to represent. Some of the things that people in my constituency need and value are of course good schools and hospitals, and I know the ALP has a track record of service delivery. A second priority for community assets is a reliable land and planning system to deliver high-quality and affordable housing in a safe and well-maintained network of roads and transports. The layout of our city, based on a wide plan, also requires innovative planning for the provision of decentralised employment and retail opportunities.

The last thing we need is an imbalance between the location of residential, retail and employment facilities. Maintenance of that balance is an absolute, essential component of our governing principles. This has been an ongoing assumption in our community, but I am concerned that some of our community and business leaders may have lost sight of it. I am determined to remind them on behalf of the people of Tuggeranong how important it is to protect that essential framework.

We have seen evidence of a dangerous tendency to tinker with those principles; for example, we constantly see expressions of opinion from normally intelligent people that Canberra airport is our most significant commercial and infrastructure asset. I think we need to maintain some balance here. And we should remember that the airport was rarely spoken of as a unique asset when it was owned by the people. It has only reached that unique and special status since it was sold by the Howard government, along with a lot of commercial land, which was included in the sale essentially as a bonus.

We need to remember that the average Canberran would be amazed to hear that the airport is a prime asset. It supplies a very limited range of permanent jobs; it provides a limited gateway for tourists and visitors, the vast bulk of whom come here by road; for historical reasons, it occupies a lot of land adjacent to Canberra and Queanbeyan on which it definitely would not be sited if it were being established today.

We need to maintain an understanding of what our constituents regard as real assets. These are: our basic infrastructure, planned around a decentralised city, which is the essential framework for employment and retail services. When we speak of assets we generally refer to community-owned assets. The airport is privately owned, as is the town centre surrounding it.

Well, let's focus on what we have created in Tuggeranong. We have a vibrant community, with sophisticated entertainment and cultural services in a unique physical setting. We have a range of schools, colleges and retail facilities that provide a unique range of services for a community of our size. Where else in Australia would a community like Tuggeranong be allowed to establish and retain a facility as unique as


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