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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 December 2021) . . Page.. 3968 ..

It is obvious that the COVID crisis has severely impacted commercial developments in Canberra. It needs to be recognised that developments in IT plus COVID-related restrictions have affected the viability of entertainment and hospitality developments. The government should not be seeking to impose additional burdens on the commercial sector by introducing new restrictions or regulations such as the proposal to revise guidelines for granting extensions on development applications.

This motion could affect all developments and should be referred to a proper committee inquiry, rather than using an off-the-cuff process to push the debate at this level and at this time. The government could, however, be proactive in supporting the development and construction of a far broader range of retail, entertainment and hospitality venues and businesses in Gungahlin. This is needed to increase the critical mass and patronage necessary to sustain a growing local population.

A strong message needs to be sent that commercial development is important for the growth of the Gungahlin town centre; yet the commercial sector needs to be convinced that the government will ensure that the right environment is provided for their participation. In conclusion, we accept the reasons for this motion and feel the frustration of the community, and we call on the government to provide assistance to ensure that this vital piece of infrastructure is built for the Gungahlin town centre and Gungahlin residents.

MR BRADDOCK (Yerrabi) (3.14): More than 25 years after the first houses in Ngunnawal and Palmerston went up, the 76,088 residents who call Gungahlin home are still waiting for their cinema. There are babies who were born in Gungahlin who are now adults. The most popular baby girl’s name in the year 2000 in Canberra was Emily—happily, also the name of my daughter. But let us tell the story of little Emily born in 2000.

Emily was born to a family living in Ngunnawal in the brand-new district called Gungahlin. This was a newly developing part of town in what was pretty near to the outskirts of Canberra, surrounded by sheep paddocks. Just two years before she was born, the marketplace had been opened. With time, more suburbs popped up: Nicholls, Gungahlin, Franklin, Harrison and Amaroo. After a period of 12 years the cinema was announced for a rapidly expanding population.

Emily, of course, being then at the age of 12, was very excited about this. It was supposed to be that, by the time it was finished, she would be old enough to go to the movies without her parents, and she was looking forward to going there with her high school friends. Delays, however, happened and she was 17 by the time the cinema was actually approved. “Never mind,” Emily thought, “I can go there with my college friends.” Then there was legal action, followed by yet more delays. By the age of 20, Emily thought, “Perhaps I will be able to go there with my uni friends.”

Emily is now 22 and about to graduate university. Her entire childhood has gone past and Gungahlin is still waiting for its cinema. A whole generation of Gungahlin kids have lost out due to these delays.

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