Page 1012 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 15 March 2005

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a one-stop-shop home to BusinessACT, the Canberra Business Advisory Service, Austrade, screenACTion and the brand new Small Business Commissioner.

Canberra’s tourism industry also stands to benefit from more effective collaboration. Initiatives such as the recently announced $1.5 million SCAN project are letting us marshal the resources of the entire region to boost our collective profile and get the best possible return on our promotional dollar.

Partnerships are also critical to the sixth strategic theme of the Canberra plan—a dynamic heart. My government is spending $1.5 million over four years to attract greater financial, social and cultural investment in Civic. Our aim is to make Walter Burley Griffin’s vision for this city a reality.

In the west, the Childers Street urban design project is creating a cultural precinct seamlessly linking the university and the city centre. The ANU recently signed a 10-year deal to develop several more parcels of vacant land in the area. Just a few metres away from where we sit today, work has begun on the Civic Library and Link. Consultation on the new Multicultural Centre will begin in July and the redevelopment of Currong Apartments is poised to begin. Just last week a new vision for City Hill was released.

The renaissance is not confined to Civic. The redevelopment of Fraser Court in Kingston and Burnie Court in Lyons will begin within months. This is urban renewal on a once-in-a-generation scale. Yet it is renewal that is also visually, philosophically and practically in tune with Canberra’s image as the bush capital. It is odd that “the bush capital”, a phrase that originally had a hint of the pejorative about it, should have become a badge of honour for this city, but it has. That is why the final theme of my government’s plan for this city focuses on our capacity to live with, rather than in opposition to, our environment.

We need to balance the demands of an affluent and growing population against the subtle, but insistent, demands of our environment. As far as possible, we must strive to be a compact city. We must be energy smart and water smart. We need to preserve our bush corridors, where we can, and leave as small a footprint as possible wherever we tread. This means confronting the sorts of issues governments find it easier to put off. My government wants to help secure the future, not condemn it.

That is why, before the end of the year, we hope to have decided on a clear way forward on the city’s future water supply. It is why, through our subsidised home energy audit program and our $1.2 million energy wise program, we are helping householders make changes that will conserve the planet’s dwindling fossil fuels. It is why we have passed water efficiency labelling laws that will save us 1.4 billion litres of water a year. It is why we want to get Canberrans out of their cars, wherever possible.

Creating an efficient public-transport system for a dispersed population is not easy, but last April’s sustainable transport plan is navigating a way. Construction of a Gungahlin-Civic bus way begins this year and we are exploring the possibilities for a Belconnen-Civic route.

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