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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2021) . . Page.. 370 ..


Throughout my campaign I had the opportunity to speak with thousands of Yerrabi residents. Whether they used the town centre for their shopping, recreation, business or employment, it was pretty clear that what was required to help make Gungahlin town centre more viable was more jobs in Gungahlin.

Canberra is at its best when our town centres are thriving. Whether Labor and the Greens like it or not, we are a decentralised and dispersed centre. The planning of Canberra has allowed us to be a bush capital with suburban blocks of land, served by a series of town centres.

Whilst we need to ensure that Canberrans have choices regarding houses, this government’s obsession with building apartments is coming at the expense of other housing types. The government has a somewhat mythical view of mixed-use developments. The theory of it is understandable. A single building has various options, including residential, office and retail. However, in reality, so much of the forced ground-floor retail space in buildings across Canberra remains vacant.

If the proposal before us today is about having more vacant ground-floor units then that would be a suboptimal outcome. On the flip side, if the outcome is that these town centre developments will be entirely residential, that too is not addressing the need for more jobs in Gungahlin. We also know that there is still much more work to be done to ensure that we get the unit titling regime in Canberra right, particularly with regard to mixed-use developments.

As I said earlier, the principle of Ms Orr’s motion is correct—that the land use is optimised according to demand and best practice. What we will struggle to do from the floor of the Assembly is make the ACT Labor-Greens government truly prioritise jobs in Gungahlin. I want to see a plan for a significant amount of additional A-grade office space in Gungahlin, with the ACT government actively working to secure a long-term tenant, be it from the ACT or federal government, or the private sector.

The lack of employment opportunities in the Gungahlin town centre has been an ongoing saga all the way back to 2008. This was at the time that the town centre planning study realised that the issue of increasing employment in Gungahlin town centre was at the forefront of residents’ wish lists. Yet here we are, 13 years later, and residents still hold the same concerns. It is time for this government finally to take genuine action in securing jobs for the Gungahlin town centre.

MR BRADDOCK (Yerrabi) (11.36): Thank you for the opportunity to discuss something that is very close to my heart, and, I am sure, that of many members in this chamber—the future of Gungahlin. For too long, Gungahlin residents have noted with concern the outcomes of the planning process in the Gungahlin town centre. Simply, we must do better. We need better zoning, better mixed-use developments, better ideas and better implementation. This message has been repeated and consistently exclaimed about by local residents.

The town centre planning refresh was initiated in 2016 in direct response to community concerns. The community’s feedback in the Gungahlin community survey


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