Page 1740 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

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confirmed yesterday that cabinet had not approved his City Hill plan. Yet, as I have stated before, his press release and the budget documents seem to suggest that the decision has been made.

On the one hand, we have lip service about listening to stakeholders and welcoming input and, on the other, we have a minister acting like the concept has been decided and all that is left is the detail. In the midst of all this, we are told there has been no cabinet decision. So, with all this confusion, I feel compelled to ask the planning minister again: what is the status of your plan? Is it the government’s position that your plan for City Hill will go ahead? If so, why is the government pretending to listen to alternative ideas when a decision has been made? If not, why do the budget papers and Mr Corbell’s press releases suggest that it is the government’s plan? These are questions that must be answered, and they must be answered now. When tourists and relatives from interstate talk about Canberra, they often refer to roundabouts. The Corbell legacy still leaves a very large roundabout, still leaves City Hill isolated and potentially raises more questions than it answers.

I would like to quote a little something I found on a local website. It says, “It would appear that Snow is raining on Corbell’s parade. But then again, Snow could probably get it done whilst Corbell would just have endless meetings, plans and consultancies, and more plans, et cetera.” For a government which is known for, and seems to take pride in, the number of plans and consultations it puts out, it would be helpful if occasionally it actually listened to what the community was saying on the issue it is consulting about. It is one thing to put out a plan and seek consultation and it is another to listen and respond to the community. It should not be about who proposes what, who created what or who makes the suggestion. It should be about a plan of which all of Canberra can be proud.

I call on the planning minister not to be blinkered, to listen to what others say. He has been entrusted with managing this city and the planning of this city for the short term. This plan could be the basis of our city for the next 100 or 200 years. We already have the legacy of Walter Burley Griffin. I do not know that Canberra can afford the legacy of Simon Corbell. Mr Speaker, I commend this motion to the Assembly.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (10.54): Mr Speaker, the government welcomes this debate regarding City Hill and the revitalisation of the city centre and is pleased to see that the opposition is once again following the lead of the government on this very important matter. It does, however, strike me as a bit rich that, after many years of neglect by the Liberal Party when it was in office, Mr Seselja comes along with a motion now as if to say he is taking the lead on the issue. Indeed, for someone who claims that I play the man and not the ball, Mr Seselja perhaps needs to reflect on whether he practises what he preaches.

The government has made a commitment to resurrect the fortunes of the central city area. Indeed, we identified this in our first term, long before anyone else was talking about the need to revitalise the city centre, when we set aside in the 2003-04 budget over $1 million to fund the investigation and administration of actions that are needed to be taken to attract new investment in the city and make it the cultural centre of Canberra. Indeed, the government, and I, as Minister for Planning, are on the record as saying that the city must become the first amongst equals, the paramount cultural, retail and commercial centre of the city of Canberra.

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