Page 191 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 11 February 2015

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showed that Canberra’s largest population increase occurred in Gungahlin suburbs: Crace saw a 58 per cent increase, Bonner a 43 per cent increase, and Casey a 40 per cent increase. These growing suburbs not only topped the territory’s list but also took the top three spots nationally, according to the Housing Industry Association’s 2014 report.

As a community, as a city, we do not have the space resources to continually spread outwards. We need to look at providing for a diversity of housing choices with good accesses to services and public transport, and that is why the government is closely linking our planning and transport strategies through the encouragement of transit-oriented development. We need to encourage urban infill and higher housing densities along high quality public transport routes.

We know the cost of urban infill is up to 130 per cent less than continuing greenfields development. The days of the quarter-acre block are well and truly behind us and we must look to providing a range of accommodation choices that suit the diverse needs of our community. We must use our land and resources more efficiently and we must ensure we can accommodate further increases in our population without impacting on quality of life or seeing a loss of valuable urban open space.

As with all town centres before it, Gungahlin is the focus of infrastructure investment to ensure that it is properly supported through its growth phase. The government is committed to a full program of community, recreational, business and educational infrastructure, including important projects, some of which Ms Fitzharris mentioned, including Gungahlin College, CIT Access, a community library, an aquatic and leisure centre, the enclosed oval, a community health centre and a range of other community spaces.

In addition we need to build transport infrastructure. The territory’s traditional business-as-usual approach has been to build roads. In the past decade the territory has spent more than $1.2 billion on road infrastructure, a figure often passed by without any notice or comment. When we build new roads and new suburbs there is, rightly, never any suggestion that the value of these roads lies only in the transport benefits they bring to the immediate residents. The new roads are vital to the successful development of the properties they service. They allow residents to get to work, to get to school, to do their shopping. All these activities have broader benefits to our economy.

Transport infrastructure is about more than just transport. Likewise, the benefits of new transport infrastructure like the capital metro light rail project extend beyond the simple mechanics of moving people from one location to another. The decision to proceed with light rail is not just about providing better public transport; it is the realisation that we cannot continue to build more roads for more cars. In a car-dependent city, more people means more cars and building more roads ultimately contributes to more congestion, less green space and increased social isolation.

As a city we are yet to suffer the most punishing effects of congestion, but we know what the consequences are and we know there is still an impact on Canberra. Congestion affects our productivity. The bureau of transport economics has estimated

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