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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 September 2015) . . Page.. 3019 ..

The town centre model is also responsible for minimal traffic congestion on Canberra roads. Minimising the number of cars travelling to the city means that roads are not clogged with unnecessary traffic as they can be in other cities. However, unfortunately, the increased concentration of employment in Civic and exclusively in Civic is undermining the design of Canberra and we have seen the result in increased congestion on roads throughout Canberra. Although work and recreation habits do change, the town centres remain important to the character of our city. Town centres should be the heart of each of our districts. Each of the town centres, along with the city, should be vibrant centres.

Despite much talk from the government about the importance of Civic, it continues to be treated as a poor cousin to other parts not far from the city. Developments in City West, New Acton, Braddon and City East, whilst all independently are very attractive areas, are all pulling the city, the CBD that is, to the north, south, east and west. For that reason, in part, the heart of the city, including City Walk and Garema Place, are somewhat neglected.

Ratepayers in the city and Braddon are required to pay a CBD levy which is supposed to be used to fund improvement here in the city centre. However, the city centre continues to be neglected and rundown and ratepayers are not seeing much return for their extra rates. In fact, business owners across the city and indeed Braddon are not seeing a return on the levy which they pay.

Further to this, the government is now actively working against business in the city. In June the Chief Minister and Treasurer revealed further increases to parking charges, while also increasing the hours of paid parking to 10.30 pm. Seemingly, these charges are needed to bring in extra revenue for the government, which of course needs to squeeze every possible dollar it can to pay for its ill-conceived light rail project. It was revealed in June that the Magistrates Court car park on London Circuit is likely to be closed to make way for a light rail depot.

The opposition does not support this proposal. Light rail, as proposed by the government, will not help the city centre. Of course you can develop Northbourne Avenue and the city without light rail. But you cannot have the city functioning as it should when parking your car in the city is near impossible.

If we want people to enjoy the city, they have to be able to get there. And whilst the government may talk about light rail being the answer the truth is that only three per cent of Canberra’s population will live within walking distance of a tram stop and that, of course, is only relevant if their intended destination is somewhere along the tram route.

All across Canberra a lack of investment and employment at town centres means that our town centres are struggling. Without a stable workforce and appropriate facilities it is unfortunately no surprise that many people choose to stay away from their local town centre or indeed travel across the city. In some town centres increased residential development and refurbished commercial spaces are helping to create more vibrant centres. This should be encouraged in all town centres.

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