Page 2924 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005

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The beneficiaries obviously need to contribute. I believe they do so through taxes. I do not think governments ought to throw endless amounts of money into these things, but they need to be looked at as contributions to the city. What is happening there seems to be very much a short-term approach. Mr Corbell made much of the $1.10 transaction fee, but the reality is that he needs to look at it on a much more serious basis and understand that, without a convention centre that has capacity, we will not drive those accommodation venues he spoke about; we will not develop the yield because we do not have the high-spending tourists here and we will therefore not get the level of employment for the young people that Mr Seselja talked about because they are leaving the city in substantial numbers.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (4.30): I am more than happy to speak in debate on this matter of public importance about the outlook for Canberra’s social and commercial appeal to investors and residents and to thank Mr Seselja for proposing it. There has been significant concentration on the aspect of this matter of public importance as it relates to Canberra’s commercial appeal, but there has not been much concentration on Canberra’s social appeal. I can understand members focusing on our economy, our capacity and our perceptions around that, as they are particularly important to our future and to our ability to meet our social hopes and aspirations.

I will deal with both aspects of the subject, the social and commercial appeal of the ACT. I refer, first, to the social appeal of Canberra. If one accepts the definition of the nature of Canberra and the place that it holds in the hearts and minds of both investors and residents, for those residents who have made Canberra home it is a wonderful, fantastic place with enormous appeal. I think we can be very thankful for that. To some extent, that social appeal and attractiveness have been hard earned in the context that significant planning work has been done to ensure we have a very liveable city, perhaps the most liveable city in Australia.

One would expect a resident, a politician, or a chief minister to say that Canberra is the most pre-eminent planned city in Australia and possibly the world and that it is one of the most liveable cities in the world. In the biannual listings of the most liveable cities round the world—and I am not sure who conducts the most well-known of those listings—some of our neighbours, for example, Melbourne in particular and Sydney to a lesser extent, are mentioned. Melbourne, along with Vancouver, jointly won the title of the most liveable city in the world after an internationally accepted study or audit of liveability was conducted. I was most concerned to see that the ACT was not listed in the first 10 or 20 and I discovered only then that Canberra was not considered as part of the mix. I think it was deemed that our population of 325,000 did not warrant comparison with other major liveable cities, and that there was a threshold of 500,000.

Acknowledging the fact that we were unfairly discriminated against or disqualified from being considered or classified as a liveable world city, I think the rules were deliberately drawn to disqualify competitors such as Canberra. Everybody in Australia would probably accept Canberra as being a far more liveable city than those other cities that feature so well. I think we should focus on that. What is it that we have that is so fantastic? Why is it that those who call Canberra home are so wedded to it? For those of

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