Page 1754 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

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What we have had done has been challenged by people. We have been challenged by a couple of private citizens. They have the right to do it and should be congratulated for expressing their opinion in a democracy. I assume that their ability to express their opinion in this democracy is guaranteed by the Human Rights Act. They should be out there challenging and questioning and they should not be subject to attack from Mr Corbell on some ideological basis.

To summarise: the previous government did a great deal for Civic at a time when it was in the doldrums. I can list these things for members, or provide them with a list of all the concessions, at any stage. We had a very solid plan for the city, and had we stayed in office it would have continued. But, in the context of the time, now is the time for a debate. It does not have to be hasty, but I do not think it should be a long-winded debate or take another two or three or four years, which most of the plans that this government puts together seem to take.

What we need to do is come to a position that most people can agree on about the future of their city, about how we make it liveable. We should not be afraid to say how we get an economic return, from the land that is available in the city, to provide new public infrastructure, whether that be courts, Assembly buildings, libraries, galleries, public housing, new roadworks or whatever. We should get on with building the potential that the city of Canberra has, which was envisaged by the Burley Griffin plan—acknowledging that both Walter and Marion had a huge role to play in it—and do it so that, 50 to 100 years from now, people will say, “Isn’t it wonderful that in 2005 the people of Canberra came together, sparked by some great concepts, some audacious concepts, put on the table by the living city plan, and did something about it.”

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (11.47): The government welcomes the debate on City Hill. The revitalisation of the Canberra city centre is recognised by the government as a matter of great importance to the Canberra community. With this in mind, the government initiated the Canberra central project in 2004, to add vitality to central Canberra through partnerships between government, the private sector and the community. It is an essential part of implementing one of the key initiatives of the Canberra plan, the Canberra spatial plan and the economic white paper, which is the establishment of Canberra city, Civic, as the dynamic heart of the territory. The work that the government has commissioned, as outlined by the Minister for Planning, also responds to the recommendations of the OECD review, mentioned earlier, into the urban renaissance of Canberra.

The Canberra plan envisages that Civic will be a vibrant hub of activity, energised as the commercial and community heart of Canberra. Through the Canberra central program, the government established three overarching objectives for the city:

to develop a central area that is vibrant, of exemplary urban quality and imbued with local and national symbolism and that is the focus of the territory’s and region’s administrative, business, social and cultural activity.

to establish a shared approach with the Australian government, the ACT government and key stakeholders to the actions and priorities for the development of a central area, and

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