3 April 2023

Barr to put ACT needs to new inquiry into National Capital

| Ian Bushnell
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Canberra cityscape from the air

The new inquiry will cover the role of Canberra and its needs as the National Capital. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The ACT Government will pitch its infrastructure needs to a new parliamentary inquiry into ways to foster and promote the significance of Australia’s National Capital.

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories, chaired by Member for Canberra Alicia Payne, will cover a wide brief including raising the city’s profile, tourism, the National Institutions and the infrastructure required to function fully as the national capital.

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Ms Payne said it was important that Canberra was equipped to meet the expectations and needs of a city designed to reflect who we are as Australians.

“Our National Capital belongs to all Australians and is a city that all Australians should be proud of. Canberra is home to 500,000 Australians and a destination for millions of visitors every year,” she said.

“This inquiry will investigate a range of matters relating to Canberra’s role as the national capital, including how national institutions tell the story of Australia, its importance in reflecting Australia’s culture and values, its role in tourism and sport, and the infrastructure resources required to ensure it continues to play its significant role in the life of our country.”

The timing could not be better for Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who is rebuilding Canberra’s tourism sector after the pandemic and hopes to enjoy a new era of Commonwealth-Territory cooperation on various projects, including transport, housing and sport and entertainment.

Canberra light rail.

Extending light rail into the National Triangle is on Mr Barr’s list. Photo: Region.

Mr Barr said the inquiry showed that the Albanese Government was interested and invested in the Canberra region.

He said the ACT’s submission to the inquiry would focus on joint projects and Commonwealth-owned assets.

“For example, the ACT would welcome a Commonwealth/Territory partnership on a range of projects, including new social housing construction, extending the light rail network into the National Triangle, revitalisation of the AIS Precinct in Bruce, and convention and entertainment infrastructure in the city,” he said.

Mr Barr said the ACT would also raise the plight of the National Institutions, which play a vital role in the ACT’s tourism sector.

He said the Commonwealth needed to invest in Canberra’s cash-strapped National Institutions, which, apart from the Australian War Memorial, are struggling with basic maintenance and fulfilling their mission.

“Recognising it isn’t possible to fix a decade of neglect in one Budget round, I encourage the Commonwealth to address the urgent and immediate needs of our National Cultural Institutions,” Mr Barr said.

“The National Cultural Institutions are important as employers and tourist attractions in Canberra. Their ongoing success is also critical for the health of the cultural sector across Australia.”

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Mr Barr said a sign of the Albanese Government’s commitment to the National Capital was the announcement of a pilot scheme to bring more students from remote areas to Canberra.

“It was great to see Education Minister Jason Clare announce a one-year pilot to provide additional assistance under the Parliament and Civics Education Rebate (PACER) to enable students from outer regional, remote, very remote and disadvantaged communities to visit Canberra,” he said.

The Committee will accept submissions from interested individuals, organisations and community groups until 5 May, 2023.

Further information on the inquiry, including the terms of reference and how to contribute, is available on the Committee’s website.

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The NCA have not been following their own policies and procedures. They have ignored heritage and environment in favour of inappropriate developments. The function and operations of the NCA Board needs to be urgently reviewed along with their association with ACT planning and developers.

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