Page 3249 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 23 August 2017

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We are also recognising and harnessing the opportunity that this provides us, with scale, to make Canberra more livable, not less livable. We have seen that with international flights, which are as much a factor of growth as of our government’s determination to secure them, and with improved retail opportunities as well. Another example was the opening of Impact Properties’ second office in Mawson this month, which I attended to cut the ribbon for; one of our growing businesses here in Canberra benefiting from the booming housing market.

I believe that population growth for Canberra can be a good thing, but it does come with challenges as we transition from a small country town to a large international city. It will mean that Canberra will look a little different in the future. I believe that that is a good thing. It will certainly look different from what it looked like in the 1950s and 1960s, which were a time of very high population growth. We can make Canberra even better than it already is. In the process, we need to continue to take steps to manage our environment. That is not in question in this motion, but it is also not the focus of this motion today.

On the south side, the Molonglo Valley is a new and rapidly growing region. With almost no people a matter of years ago, there are now around 5,000 people living in Molonglo and we are on track to seeing 20,600 people living across Coombs, Wright, Denman Prospect, Molonglo and Whitlam by 2021. Of these people, just over half are women, 51.1 per cent, above the ACT average. And Molonglo is both a new region and a young region. The average age is 30 years old in the Molonglo Valley, compared to 35 across the ACT. There are also significantly more children under 15 years living in the Molonglo Valley proportionately compared with the rest of our city. Along with this, there are significantly fewer people over the age of 45.

Equally, we are seeing demographic transitions on the south side, with an ageing and declining population in established suburbs. Kambah’s average age is now 40, up from 36 just 10 years ago and 37 at the census prior to the most recent one, in 2011. And the population is diminishing. It went down from 15,500 in 2011 to 14,900 last year. There are similar trends in Weston Creek, which has been around stable at 22,000. The average age is well up there, up to 41 from 39 in the previous census. Our community needs to continue to advance inclusive policies so that both younger and older people in our community have the opportunity to continue to contribute to our society. The importance of these statistics for Murrumbidgee is that we have a diverse electorate and our government is catering to the needs of different Canberrans living in our different regions. I want to comment on a few aspects of what the government is doing, particularly in health.

As our demography increases and transitions, one of our greatest challenges is ensuring that Canberrans have access to best quality and affordable health care. That is our government’s priority; it is Labor’s priority. The June budget delivers in the area of health for the needs of our young, our adults and our elderly. A 10-year health plan builds the infrastructure, investing in healthcare professionals and ensuring that we have the capacity and resources to provide quality and affordable health care as our city grows.

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