Page 2094 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 August 2022

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My electorate is the most diverse in the ACT. It takes in some of the oldest suburbs—places like Yarralumla and Deakin, as well as some of the newest, in Denman Prospect and Whitlam. It takes in the entirety of Weston Creek, Woden and Molonglo. It takes in parts of Kambah, the inner south and the rural areas to our west. It is a diverse electorate. But if there is one problem which unites it, it is neglect—neglect of basic care and maintenance, neglect of ageing infrastructure, neglect of essential services, and neglect of planning and foresight. This is a wonderful electorate and the people there deserve better.

The Molonglo Valley is Canberra’s newest region, with its stunning setting on the western edge of Canberra. Stretching from Stromlo to the Molonglo River, I have followed its development closely since its early days and its early planning. Sadly, its vision, its potential, has not been realised.

Well over a decade ago, I attended one of the first early planning and consultation sessions for the Molonglo Valley, and specifically for Wright and Coombs. I very clearly remember person after person warning of the very problems Molonglo now faces. The government was warned that evening that it would be critical to get infrastructure right before the suburbs were built, that Cooleman Court would become overloaded without local Molonglo shops, and that the Cotter Road, which was already struggling then to handle traffic, could not be the only major route into and out of the area.

The government was warned that the northern road connection would be critical, yet here we are, all these years later, with thousands of people facing crushing congestion every day, and the Molonglo River bridge still has not been started, and it will not be completed until well after the next election. The people of Molonglo and Weston Creek deserve real solutions to congestion. It is time to prioritise this project. It is time to get it done.

The one problem that I do not recall being a concern for the Molonglo Valley at the outset was crime. No-one anticipated the cuts in real terms to police funding and numbers that this government would deliver. No-one predicted that the problem could reach the point where police would be unable to attend significant crimes like theft.

Now, across my electorate, people fear the growth of criminal activity. People in Molonglo and Weston Creek have to contend with the knowledge that the nearest police station is not local and that help may not be quick, even if the situation is critical. For years now, the Canberra Liberals have been calling for an increase in police numbers and funding, and the building of a police station in the west. I will be adding my voice to those calls because everyone deserves to feel safe in their home.

We need to speak about Woden. Woden was Canberra’s first satellite city. Gazetted nearly 60 years ago, it is positioned within easy reach of much of Tuggeranong, Weston creek, Molonglo and the inner south. Woden can and should be the pumping economic heart of the south. But through a lack of vision, through a lack of planning, through misdirected policies and at times through active neglect, we have seen the Woden town centre and region go backwards, enduring over a decade of urban and suburban decay.

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