Page 2925 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005

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us who have lived here for decades it is not just a question of rose-tinted glasses or the blush of a first impression: the appeal never fades, it continues to grow and to increase.

Canberra’s appeal has grown for me and I think for most residents. We can see that in the context of the community’s response to suggestions made at the beyond the Canberra plan forum which Mr Mulcahy addressed—the community’s response to suggestions that the town was somehow boring and tired and not a place that had any appeal to investors, outsiders or residents. I think the residents of Canberra rose up almost as one and said, “No, that is not true. That is not our perception. That is not our feeling about Canberra, our home. We do not view it in that light at all. It is not relevant to our perception or to our reality.” As a politician I have discovered on almost every occasion I have engaged in conversations in the street or organised community meetings or consultations that that is not the view of Canberrans.

This matter of public importance invites us to comment on the outlook for Canberra’s social appeal to residents. I think Canberra’s social appeal to residents is as strong now as it has been at any stage in Canberra’s history. I think that social appeal is growing and growing. That is my experience as a 36-year resident of Canberra and it is the response of everybody to whom I speak who lives in Canberra. Every resident to whom I have spoken regards Canberra as a city that is beyond comparison.

There are a number of reasons for that. They include our commitment to the environment and the fact that we have the bluest sky, the clearest nights and the cleanest air; and they include our geographic location and convenience. The Minister for Planning can rightly take pride in the planning of Canberra and in the significant work that has been done, through the development of the spatial plan, to maintain Canberra and its reputation as a pre-eminent and planned city. We respect and jealously guard our street amenity and our garden and bush capital title, which are so important to Canberrans. These are the things we have maintained and will always maintain that lend themselves to Canberra’s social appeal.

We put a great deal of effort into the Canberra plan. Major consultation underpinned the development of the Canberra plan through three major elements—the economic white paper, the social plan and the spatial plan. That is what is at the heart of this debate. The government has undertaken detailed and extensive consultation with the people of Canberra to obtain their ideas for the city. In our relationship with one another we have established what they want, what their expectations are and what sort of city they want to live in. We established what they wanted the city to look like and what we needed to do to ensure we met all those hopes and aspirations.

I could talk at length about the fact that as a result of our spatial planning work we have a sustainable blueprint for maintaining our pre-eminent designed city. We are building on the work of the past. The work that was undertaken in relation to the spatial plan was the first detailed planning work to be done in the ACT in almost 20 years. Today I released a progress report on the implementation of the social plan, which maintains our commitment to ensuring that we have the finest employment opportunities for all children within the ACT.

I have said before—and I stand by the statement—that part of this town’s appeal in a social and commercial sense lies in the quality of our education. We maintain at all

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