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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2021) . . Page.. 369 ..

We have seen throughout 2020 that there are many ways to undertake office-based work. Many of us have a renewed appreciation of what it means to work from home. Some people enjoy it; others do not like it. A lot of people saw the advantages of being able to work from home some of the time. Much of the benefit has to do with the lack of commute when one is working from home, and potentially also the relaxed dress code.

Having truly mixed-use development allows for reducing commute times while still going to the office and enjoying the social benefits that that brings. It allows for a better work-life balance. The learnings from our experiences with different flexible arrangements for office-based work allow for the exploration of differently built formats in the town centre. The time is right to explore these.

With some thought and strategy, we can encourage this sort of diversification, and even explore some new opportunities not imagined a year ago in the Gungahlin town centre; but there needs to be the appropriate planning levers in place to ensure that the building stock is there now and into the future. I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MS CASTLEY (Yerrabi) (11.31): The Canberra Liberals welcome the opportunity to once again discuss planning issues in Gungahlin. The residents of Canberra, particularly Yerrabi, deserve a town centre that functions properly. What Gungahlin needs, perhaps more than anything else, is more jobs in the Gungahlin town centre. Whilst we support today’s motion in principle, I am not convinced that today’s motion will have any impact on the viability of Gungahlin.

It is great that the federal government is moving Defence Housing Australia to the town centre. The move will bring more weekday activity to the centre. We need the ACT government to properly prioritise making our town centres function as they were originally intended to.

Of course, given that this Labor government is older than the majority of the town centre, Labor has had every opportunity to get it right. Despite two decades in power, a quick glance through past notice papers and Hansard shows that calls to improve planning in Gungahlin have been a regular discussion point in this chamber.

The Gungahlin Community Council has been a strong voice, advocating for better planning and better outcomes, particularly in the town centre. As part of their advocacy and representation in the lead-up to the 2020 election, halting the loss of town centre commercial space to mixed residential and actively attracting more employers to Gungahlin were amongst the council’s top priorities.

While discussing the council, I would like to thank the volunteers, who do a wonderful job serving our community. They are president Peter Elford, vice-president Henley Samuel, treasurer Darron Marks, secretary Sharee Schultz, public officer Kevin Cox, and general committee members Prasad Tipirneni, Dr Krishna Nadimpalli, Ralitsa, Shah, Pradeep, and Sunita. They are all such great people.

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