Page 2801 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 17 August 2005

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We really do have to go back to the 1996 Canberra: a capital future plan. Contrary to what Mr Corbell says, there are objectives in it and there are things that are to be achieved. But let us look at one page, page 57, Revitalising the Heart of the City. We hear all this talk from the government that “We are the first ones to put a comprehensive plan together for the city.” Mr Corbell, shamed into doing something, put out a flimsy little document a couple of weeks before Mr Snow put his document out so that he could say, “I got there first.” But the genesis of all that Mr Corbell is doing and what has taken four years is, of course, the OECD report that the former government, indeed that I as the former planning minister, commissioned. That report said, “We’ve got to this point in time. Where do we go to from here?”

So the revisionists and the rewriters of history, and those opposite are very good at it, need to actually sit down and take into account all the work that has gone before them. The Chief Minister again said that it is the first time we have had this comprehensive plan. Whether you like it or not, there it is: Canberra: a capital future—ACT strategic plan. What does it cover: the shape we are in; the economy; strategies for a viable sustainable future; sustainability objectives; principles and actions. It then talks about managing the city’s growth and change; the town centres; retail policy and Canberra’s landscape. Gee, Mr Corbell, there is even a section on roads; public transport; the airport; high-speed rail, and so it goes on. So this notion, this rewriting, this ignoring of the truth has to be challenged on every occasion, and of course we will challenge it.

The Chief Minister talks about how he brought all these elements together and how it is working. I just remind the Chief Minister of something he said in the radio the other day. He said, “Canberra is not on the radar internationally.” So if we have done all this good work and built up this image of Canberra as the city of the future, the city with the plan, then why are we not on the radar? We are not on the radar because the government has really ignored some of the key things that they need to do to promote the sustainable future of this city.

The Chief Minister stood up and talked about how we have got all these events coming. That is good. The events are good and congratulations to the government for having events. You are not the first government to run events and you will not be the last. But we did have this dearth of events for three years where the government cancelled everything. There were no fireworks celebrations. There was nothing for New Year’s Eve. There was a lackadaisical approach to the multicultural festival, a lackadaisical approach to the Canberra festival. Basically, it all went away. The celebration of the city all went away. So in its own social plan, the government said, “We are going to have events.” Why did we have to put that in that plan? It is because we had forgotten to have them for almost three years.

The interesting thing with all of this is that so much of it was built on the achievements of the former government. Mr Gentleman said, “We have built NICTA.” We started to bid for NICTA. We did the groundwork that helped get NICTA to the ACT. We started the groundwork for the medical school. We did the work that got the medical school here. Mr Gentleman said, “We are fast becoming the heart of the region.” When we were in office, we were the heart of the region because we had regional leaders forums that were ignored by this government when they came to office. We were actually working with the region years and years and years ago. So do not say “We discovered the region.”

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