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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 7 Hansard (6 August) . .

Page.. 2064..


I particularly want to thank my colleague Alistair Coe, who is without doubt the most knowledgeable person in this Assembly on Canberra planning and development matters—more than any other member here. He does not live in Molonglo. Indeed, he does not live anywhere on the south side of Canberra. So he cannot be accused of being a nimby as those on the other side of the chamber and their supporters in the Canberra press are so willing to sledge when anyone dares to question flaws in their magic pudding arguments.

Mr Barr is at pains to tell us that this is not a Yarralumla issue. It is an across-Canberra issue. I could not agree with him more. His own constituents would want to point this out to him in person. If only he found the time to come to any of the many local community association meetings in his own electorate, Mr Barr would hear this for himself. Mr Barr is confident that his plan is the plan we need to go with. But equally his predecessor in the portfolio, Mr Corbell, was of the belief that the earlier plan was the plan. Mr Barr said he has no doubt the proposed housing could be sold "five times over".

Let me draw your attention again to the current vacancy rates in the inner south. There are 3.4 per cent higher vacancy rates in the south of Canberra than Canberra overall and the national average. That is before Lawson, Wright, Moncrieff and Denman housing comes on the market. This plan, as it currently stands, does not even follow the advice of its own consultants in respect of necessary road infrastructure, the need for preservation of the historic elements of the area and the building density and height.

Is it any wonder then that there is such cynicism and such concern about what might be next? Is it any wonder that residents have been so diligent in seeking out more information? It is this lack of transparent consultation that has driven their thirst for knowledge. Mr Barr, when community groups have lodged FOI requests to access information that should be easily and openly available, one has to wonder what it is the government is trying to fudge or avoid by not granting these FOI requests.

None of the community groups that I have spoken to is opposed to development. They know Canberra needs to grow. They just want to be sure that it grows appropriately and that their concerns and issues are taken into account. I received recently a letter that underscores what the community is seeking on the issue, and that is balance. I will quote from the correspondence that I received:

As a long time resident of ... Yarralumla, I am writing to express ... my interest and concerns re the proposed development plans ... This development proposal provides a unique opportunity to use the land resources wisely, to be an attractive healthy living space for the future ... Residents strongly wish to be part of this planning process. Many of us have a love and special connection to this place.

"Strongly wish to be part of the planning process"; that is no nimbyism. That is love for and pride in one's community. Canberrans regularly suffer through the slings and arrows of people outside the territory. They do not expect it from their own representatives.


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