Page 2920 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005
reasonably comfortable and well housed; we want access to good food; and we want good roads, public transport, et cetera. Really, we all want the same benefits.
Of course, the Greens have a particular approach to these things as well, and I guess it is time to throw that into the mix. We think our small size should be looked at as an asset. I cannot see how Canberra is going to become a major city in terms of numbers unless someone strikes gold, oil or something like that here. I am not sure that is going to happen. Water is the new oil!
Mr Mulcahy: Canberra just needs steady growth; it does not need millions of people.
DR FOSKEY: Yes. I sometimes think a lot of us are sitting here wishing we lived in a city the size of Sydney or Melbourne; but Canberra is a major regional city that is given much greater importance by being not only the national capital but also a self-governing territory. That is what makes Canberra unique, in addition to the fantastic environment it is situated in, as well as the fantastic environment people have access to—the New South Wales towns with their different heritage interests and so on. That is what Canberra is. It is fantastic that, over the years, we have been able to develop beyond being a public service town. While that will always be an enormous part of our economy and work lives, we know that there are vicissitudes in public services and that we must have the resilience to respond to those.
There have been a number of processes in this town to create a vision for Canberra. People might remember one led by Peter Ellyard in the early 1990s; a vision of Canberra in 2020. I think that, if we went through that exercise again, we would come up with something similar. We can all say that we want all the things I have already mentioned, which Mr Corbell says we have or are working towards and that Mr Seselja says we want, but there are other ways to go.
We need to think outside the square, because we are not talking about a world that is the same as the one we have all been used to. I am a member of the ageing group of baby boomers. I am aware that, as a generation, we have tended to pull the drawbridge up behind us. There are many things I have had the benefit of that are not there for people younger than I. I am not part of the cause of that; in fact, I have fought against it. I am very aware that that is what has been done in many cases.
When I look at the cost of higher education and a number of other things, I am concerned that not only will younger people find themselves burdened with debt but also they will have a huge mess to clean up because we have not addressed our mess. We all know that Canberra consumers are profligate both by Australian standards and by global standards. So, when we talk about increasing our population we have to be very careful that, at the same time, we are reducing our overall ecological footprint. That should be something we take for granted. Unfortunately, too much of our idea of growth is predicated on increasing consumption: we want more people so they will buy more goods and services. Let us look at another town, not dissimilar in size, which has taken a different development path. Mr Corbell should be able to back me up on this because he has recently been there. Portland in Oregon has proved the idea that growth as purely an economic and a population thing is not essential for a prosperous economy. Newly