Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 3 June 2021) . . Page.. 1729 ..
Canberra is known as a planned city and as a garden city, and this has many positive aspects. Many positive legacies have been left with Canberra as a result of that planning work. However, it has not always had positive elements. I probably would not go as far as Jane Jacobs did in her book on the life and death of American cities when she famously derided garden city planners “popularizing the ideas of the super-block, the project neighborhood, the unchangeable plan, and grass, grass, grass”. But there is no doubt that the garden city template that we have inherited is a decentralised and spread-out city that historically has prioritised low density living in suburbs without a substantial mix of uses, leaving us with a city footprint that has been left to grow into our nature reserves. This has not always been a positive aspect of the garden city model, and it has also led to greater distances being travelled by people who want to get from place to place. It is often difficult to provide good and efficient public transport across a city footprint that is larger than New York City with just a fraction of the population.
However, our modern planning strategies have attempted to keep what is good about Canberra whilst growing our city in a better way as a compact, efficient, diverse, sustainable and livable city into the future. The Planning Strategy 2018 retained the vision of making sure that we keep the features of the city that people love and value, including keeping the city in a bush landscape setting with access to green space. This connection between people and nature is what the national park city is all about.
I want to touch on a few aspects of how our city has changed, as the Chief Minister mentioned; what I am doing across my portfolio; and some of the different charter values of national park cities.
The first charter value is lives, health and wellbeing. Clean air is a focus of a national park city. We in Canberra enjoy some of the cleanest air in the world. We have one of the highest standards of health and wellbeing and the highest life expectancy in Australia. However, we have challenges, like others, and this is an opportunity to promote what we are doing, as well as to try and tackle those challenges.
Smoke is the main air pollutant in Canberra but, as the Transport Strategy released last year highlighted, we can do other things to reduce the amount of PM2.5 particulate matter in our air by transitioning to zero-emissions vehicles. That is a focus for me as transport minister in transitioning our bus fleet under the Transport Canberra zero-emissions plan. Today we announced the tender for the replacement of 34 of our most polluting diesel buses. They will be replaced, hopefully, with new, modern, clean, accessible buses that will make getting around even easier for the Canberra community, so that in the future they do not have to breathe in the toxic black fumes that come out of some of the existing vehicles. We also have broad plans for the private vehicle fleet under the zero-emissions vehicle action plan.
Another focus of the charter for national park cities is wildlife, trees and flowers. Our government understands that Canberra’s tree-lined streets, local parks and surrounding bushland are some of the things that make Canberra such a great place to live.