Page 3485 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005

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Who knows, possibly some time in the next financial year? I think the answer from the minister was that it would be some time in the term of this Assembly, possibly some time in 2007-08.

That is one of the concerns. We have had problems with A10. When the community raised concerns, they were told, “Look, we will make sure there are guidelines to ensure there is not inappropriate development.” Unfortunately, those guidelines have not been forthcoming. I again call upon the minister to tell us when he plans to keep that election promise to provide guidelines for A10.

The minister made some reasonable points, though. Local shops need to be viable and it is unrealistic at times to expect that all local shops will survive. It is certainly desirable that we maintain local shopping centres as much as possible. But I do not think it is up to the government to artificially prop up businesses that are failing. Clearly there is dispute within the community. At Giralang, the owner of the shops says it is not viable and the residents say it is; he is just running it down.

I do not know the truth of that situation but I think it is unrealistic to expect the government to be propping up unprofitable businesses. Settings can be put into place to assist local centres. I agree with the point the minister made about the liberalisation of trading hours having a bigger impact than virtually anything else on local centres, possibly even more than the demographics of the local area. The liberalisation of trading hours, which happened mainly in the 1980s and 1990s, has had a big impact and it is up to local centres now to find niches. I think Hawker is a good example of a local centre that has found a niche. It is up to individual businesses to work out what the community needs. It is not up to government. Certainly it is not up to the government to be building centres, as the Greens call for. The government cannot be propping up those businesses. I think that is a bit unrealistic.

I want to make a couple of quick points about A10. The minister seems to have changed the justification a little bit. He said that in some of those areas they do it because it is close to a group centre. The interesting example, I guess, is Downer, where the original A10 seemed to be designed to prop up the local centre in Downer. Then, early in the term of this Assembly, we saw that scaled back. It seems to be really coming back to its proximity to Dickson. That does not seem to have been the original plan, but it makes some sense.

The difficulty of propping up a local centre like Downer is apparent for all to see. With its very close proximity to Dickson, it is very difficult to maintain a local centre in a place like Downer. It is a very short walk to the Dickson shops, which has everything that people would need. A lot of the things you would expect from a local centre, such as restaurants, are at Dickson. I think the situation in Downer demonstrates some of the flawed thinking in the A10. As I said at the time, the variation to A10 for Downer was a welcome backdown, a demonstration that they did not quite get the policy right in terms of a one-size-fits-all approach. Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, you would be aware of our deliberations in the committee.

So A10 does not always work, and we have opposed it. Interestingly, this week I heard the minister on the radio speaking about the proposed development in Belconnen. He seemed to be adopting a lot of the opposition’s policy. He said, “The town centres are the

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