Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2021) . . Page.. 371 ..
of 2019 revealed that over 50 per cent of residents wanted no more residential apartments in the town centre.
My experience on the campaign trail in the 2016 and 2020 election campaigns brought me into contact with numerous residents who were concerned about the make-up of the town centre. The Gungahlin Community Council, a body that I had the honour of serving on previously as secretary, has tirelessly advocated for more employment opportunities in the district to reduce the number of residents who need to commute each and every day outside their district.
Unfortunately, Gungahlin’s lived experience has not lived up to what the intention was. In the town plan, precinct 2B was intended as an office park, providing employment for thousands of Gungahlin residents. There are now towering apartment buildings that incorporate one level of commercial space, topped off with residential apartments. Residents do not want to see the same results in Gungahlin town centre east. It is for this reason that I enthusiastically support Ms Castley’s proposed amendment that makes specific mention of employment in the town centre.
The motion refers to draft variation 364, which I am compelled to speak about today. Its interim effect has expired and I, for one, will not mourn its passing. As the Gungahlin Community Council stated about the draft variation, it “entrenches the notion of Gungahlin as a dormitory district with a small employment base and limited services”. Any return of DV364 that sells the people of Gungahlin short is not acceptable. The town plan must explicitly set out a vision for Gungahlin as a major hub for employment, shopping, social activities and public transport, particularly serving the suburbs within the Gungahlin district, to have my support.
I recognise that the likelihood of a major employer such as a large federal department moving into the Gungahlin town centre is very low. We need to accept the reality of that. But that does not mean we should send up the white flag. That does not mean we flog off the land for apartment towers, for as much as we can get, to balance the budget, moving on and washing our hands of Gungahlin. That is selling Gungahlin short.
I will support continued efforts to secure a large employer to move into the town centre, but it is also now time to be innovative. Gungahlinites have spoken repeatedly, consistently and emphatically about what they want for the town centre. We now need to listen to them again, because we need their vision and their ideas on how we can increase employment opportunities in the town centre, whilst simultaneously providing services badly needed in the Gungahlin district. This is a conversation I will be having with Gungahlin residents. To this end, I will be hosting an event at the Celebrate Gungahlin Festival at the end of March to do just that.
We need new and innovative ideas to create a town centre that works for the residents of Gungahlin. For example, the Gungahlin district is devoid of an aged-care facility. What is preventing us from creating an aged-care facility in Gungahlin town centre east, creating employment opportunities for staff, allowing Gungahlin residents to remain close to their local communities and allowing families to remain easily