Page 3980 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 30 October 2013

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MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Health and Minister for Higher Education) (12.08): Ms Berry rightly has pointed out some of the fundament points about our city centre and the government’s plans for it. It does play a different role for different people and different organisations. It is not just a shopping centre or a place where people come to work. There is a real community interest in and demand for change and growth in the city centre to help the city reaffirm its rightful place as territory, regional and national capital.

When I launched the city plan project back in March this year, I made it very clear that I wanted to hear from people about what they wanted the city centre to be. We have heard some strong views and some great ideas on the city centre, with about 15,000 comments right across a range of matters. In open house sessions, online consultations, surveys, Facebook, Twitter, group workshops and written submissions, I got the very strong message that the community is clearly and strongly interested in both the now and the future of the city centre.

We heard that people want a city that has an identity, with a strong recognisable heart that people can relate to, to gather in and celebrate. Part of that is reflecting the natural setting and the landscape vision set out by the Griffin plan. People want a city centre that is vibrant and alive, a city that draws people to it both day and night. We have heard a consistent view that the city centre should be less about cars and more about people. We are also keenly aware of the need for good public transport options and accessible parking in the urban mix.

But I think the key message we got from a broad cross-section of the community was simply that people want to see things happen. I believe our challenge is to change and to grow, taking what we like about other cities while staying true to our own urban traditions. This draft city plan is a clear and strong step in that direction.

Economic growth in the ACT has been above the national average over the past five years, and recent development in the city centre has reflected that strength. I am conscious that more recently investor confidence has been affected by some of the local uncertainty over federal government job cuts. With the city plan, the ACT government is moving to support confidence through a clear and long-term strategy and an environment conducive to investment. I would also note that this is one of the things the ACT division of the Property Council has asked for in its recent set of declarations, one of a number the government is already focused on.

The residential population of Canberra’s city centre has grown by about 570 per cent over the last 10 years. It has brought with it some major changes to the urban environment. The Childers Street precinct has been redeveloped and enhanced to become a student and cultural hub with a street life and night-life which supports a wide range of retail and dining businesses. The Canberra Centre has been expanded and is now looking outwards to bring a street life, dining and recreation culture to the core of the city. The federal government has selected tenancies in more modern and sustainable buildings in the centre, and the ACT government has invested in upgrades to our streets and public spaces in the city centre, giving the places where people walk,

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