Page 3429 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005

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I do not believe Canberra is boring. The criticism about lack of a city centre does have some merit. Whilst there is a somewhat defined city centre, it is split down the middle by Northbourne Avenue and does not encourage travel from one side of Northbourne Avenue to the other. It is at times as thought the eastern and western sides of the city are separate areas or even separate cities.

There is no doubt that there is a growing level of activity in Canberra night-life, of activity in Canberra after hours, through cafes and restaurants and the growing cafe culture of places such as Manuka, Kingston, Dickson and Lyneham. Canberra has a vibrant cultural life, but this is no doubt limited to some extent by the size of the city as well as its design.

Mr Speaker, the launch of the Griffin legacy by the National Capital Authority last year started a discussion about the future of our city centre, focusing initially on the documented plans that Burley Griffin created for the city on its foundation 80 years ago. The Griffin legacy spoke of the importance of City Hill, firstly as part of the national access and the parliamentary triangle. The original vision for City Hill was as a location for the city hall, a place from which the city would be governed, symbolically, at the high point of the city area and at a point where the avenues of Canberra were to meet. But City Hill has now become an island in the middle of the city, cut off by the traffic entering and exiting from north and south, and an empty place visited only sporadically by Canberrans.

Since the release of the Griffin legacy, we have seen three plans released for the future of City Hill: one produced by the ACT government, one by the living city team led by Terry Snow, and one by an international consortium. These ideas have led to a significant debate about what is the best outcome for the area. There appears to be broad agreement across a range of interests that the development of City Hill is an important part of the completion of Canberra. There is an acknowledgment of the need for Canberra to have an identifiable and attractive city centre.

This bill seeks to move the debate forward. This bill does not seek to advance one particular model for what should be constructed. The bill creates a framework through which this debate can be progressed and outcomes can be achieved and through which the ACT community at large can be involved in discussions and decisions about the future of their city.

The Civic Development Authority Bill proposes the formation of an independent authority tasked with the role of overseeing the development of a defined area of the Canberra CBD in the vicinity of City Hill, meeting Commonwealth Park and towards the lake foreshore. In the past, cities all over the world have used the model of an independent authority specifically set up to oversee the development of particular important areas. From the Rocks in Sydney to Southbank in Brisbane and Docklands in Melbourne, there is a long history in this country of this model being used.

The need for an independent authority is clear. Many of those involved in this sector on a daily basis have emphasised the need for a body to be created outside the current planning system, with a fresh approach and a focus on the City Hill area and the outcomes sought. I am aware of a number of voices on this issue that see that as a way

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