Page 3765 - Week 10 - Thursday, 14 September 2017
Canberrans. They are where we go to pick up our milk and bread. They are where we gather for local festivals like the Light Up Lyneham night I spoke about a few weeks ago in this chamber, or the pop-up market at the Red Hill shops that saw a buzz of activity on Saturday, 26 August. It is also where local businesses look to set up so that they can contribute to their local community.
It is greatly disappointing to see local shops go through deterioration, as we have seen at a number of sites. This evening I talk specifically about the Kingston shops, now commonly known by locals as old Kingston. Once upon a time, the Kingston shops were the vibrant heart of the inner south, where you could run into your next-door neighbour or even the Prime Minister having coffee on a Saturday morning. Evenings were a buzz of activity, with cafes, restaurants and bars full of jolly Canberrans and visitors. Nights were full of young people enjoying their youth, enjoying a drink and perhaps making some new friends.
Fast forward to today and local businesses at the Kingston shops are struggling to keep their doors open. It is always disappointing to see a local business close. Behind every local business is the blood, sweat and tears of a hardworking Canberran, and usually their family and friends. The closure of the Kingston IGA is already having an impact on residents, local businesses and visitors. Kingston is a high density residential area and is a popular place to live for new Canberrans, particularly those who relocate to Canberra for a public service job. A lot of these young people do not have cars and rely on the services available at the Kingston shops for their groceries, weekend brunch, after-work drinks and a night out.
Kingston shops are home to award-winning restaurant Otis Dining Hall, a longstanding Canberra business in Stephanie’s boutique, and the very trendy Floral Society’s flower bar, just to name a few. Those who know that these exciting businesses exist will seek them out. But what these businesses, and all the other businesses at the Kingston shops, will miss is the foot traffic or the random visitors who may pop into these businesses before or after going to the supermarket. Supermarkets are a core necessity for local shops to survive and thrive.
I understand that there is a full-line supermarket due to open at the Kingston shops in 2019. But, in the meantime, Kingston residents and local businesses are to be left without a basic supermarket for two years. The site of the proposed supermarket, which is a part of a larger development, including residential, is on Eyre Street, on the opposite side from the former IGA site. Even when the new supermarket does open, it will run the real risk of creating a tale of two sides of Kingston: there will be the shiny, new development at Eyre Street, while its poor cousin runs along the opposite side of Kingston square at Jardine Street with boarded-up empty shops, if something is not done to revitalise the Kingston shops overall.
The Canberra Liberals are not new to fighting for the residents of Kingston. In the last term, my colleague and fellow member for Kurrajong Mr Doszpot lobbied hard, and I acknowledge his great work, in getting the grass at Green Square rejuvenated, making this common area more accessible and usable for residents and visitors.