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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 March 2014) . . Page.. 468 ..

I welcome the opportunity to discuss the important contribution that development and maintenance of infrastructure plays in underpinning jobs growth by creating a productive and sustainable ACT economy. The government recognises the importance of high-quality infrastructure to a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable Canberra.

Infrastructure, as the foundation on which our community is built, is a critical element in determining how our local community grows and develops. It underpins our strong and robust economy, allows for the efficient delivery of essential social services and contributes to a healthy and sustainable environment capable of responding to the challenges of climate change.

Ultimately, it contributes to Canberra’s vitality and the high quality of life we enjoy in the ACT. Strong infrastructure necessitates a long-term perspective, vision and commitment and the government has a longstanding commitment to, and record of, investing in quality infrastructure for the territory.

Strategic infrastructure planning aims to prioritise investment in the right infrastructure to meet the needs of our community. This includes ensuring that the territory gets value for our money, is able to work efficiently and effectively, and grows sustainably.

Infrastructure investment decisions cannot be developed in isolation of each other. They must be considered together in the context of the government’s and the community’s priorities and the vision for the territory. To this end we extend our infrastructure planning a decade into the future, to look at long-term and emerging trends, such as the ageing population, and Canberra’s growing role as a regional hub.

Our infrastructure vision is set out in the government’s 10-year infrastructure plan, which shows how our vision is translated into real plans and projects. The plan is developed and updated in consultation with the community and industry.

The ACT, like most urban centres, will face a number of significant challenges in the coming years. We continue to see contraction in spending by the commonwealth government, and we anticipate more impacts to be revealed in their upcoming budget. We are seeing a shift in the profile of our workforce and population more generally due to the ageing population, a trend that will also increase demand for health and other social services.

We will grapple with the challenges of limiting urban sprawl and increasing urban densification, a challenge that has implications extending across the economic, social and environmental frontiers. We are also increasing our integration with the surrounding districts of New South Wales, such as the fast-growing areas of Queanbeyan, Palerang and the Yass valley. While this will provide great benefits for the territory, we must also address our role as a regional provider of services such as health and education for the broader capital region. We must also be mindful about how we fund infrastructure and services which effectively straddle the ACT-New South Wales border.

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