16 March 2022

Canberra 'switched on' to grasp economic opportunities

| Ian Bushnell
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ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr: “Canberra is uniquely placed to meet the need for a better work-life balance.” Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Canberra will play to its strengths as an accessible, liveable and innovative city to attract new investment and talent over the next four years, Chief Minister Andrew Barr has told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).

Mr Barr launched the ACT’s Economic Development Priorities in Wednesday’s address to CEDA, stressing Canberra’s work-life balance and the national capital as an easy place to do business.

“Our mission is to work with willing partners across the community to ensure Canberra is prepared for new challenges, and able to grasp the opportunities that will come from the next phase of our economic development,” he said.

After more than two years of pandemic and economic upset, Mr Barr expressed cautious optimism about the future and outlined three key missions – maintaining Canberra’s lifestyle as an asset, developing a zero-emissions and sustainable city, and prioritising further knowledge-based economic growth.

The ‘CBR Switched On’ strategy will also be driven by transformative projects such as the Big Canberra Battery and the Canberra Airport freight hub.

READ ALSO Big-spending Budget to focus on jobs and skills, says Barr

Mr Barr said the goal was for Canberra to be a city that gave back time and prioritised wellbeing and liveability.

“Across the world, COVID-19 has forced people to reassess how they want to live,” he said. “Canberra is uniquely placed to meet the need for a better work-life balance.

“We will achieve this through better design, implementation and access to secure digital services, as well as improvements in urban planning and transport links.”

Mr Barr said the government would push beyond its commitment to net zero-emissions by 2045 and the already decarbonised electricity grid to deliver a swag of objectives.

These include the Big Canberra Battery; boosting the energy-efficiency of buildings and homes to bring down energy bills; the phasing out of fossil-fuel gas; and driving down transport emissions, including swelling the number of zero-emissions vehicles.

“By meeting our targets and building on our status as an early mover on climate action, we can attract new talent, ideas and investment to Canberra,” he said.

Roof of a house on which solar system is being installed

The government sees a decarbonised Canberra as an economic model of the future. Photo: Mondiaux Solar.

Mr Barr said the Big Battery, incentives to remove gas from homes, boosting household energy efficiency and reducing transport emissions gave Canberra an opportunity to pilot world-first decarbonised suburbs.

“We will show the world that decarbonisation can be achieved while creating jobs, growing our economy and saving money.”

He said the government wanted to position Canberra as a city where innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship were encouraged and celebrated.

Over the next four years it will formalise the city’s innovation precincts based around tertiary education and research institutions, and further establish Canberra as a city-wide hub for developing and trialling new ideas such as vehicle-to-grid solutions and virtual power plants.

“We will continue to support and encourage our entrepreneurial ecosystems with relationships between higher education and research sectors, the business community and the government.”

The government will also establish an investment facilitation service and provide venture capital to small businesses.

It will prioritise investment that provides a return to the community by enhancing liveability and delivering environmental and social benefits.

Mr Barr said aviation was crucial to Canberra’s tourism economy getting back to a visitor spend of $2.5 billion and connecting the region to domestic and global markets

READ ALSO CommSec reports ACT second-best economy despite weak employment

The government will continue working with a recovering Canberra Airport to secure direct international services and re-establish the national capital as a global aviation hub.

There will also be coordinated investment in the road networks surrounding the airport to enable efficient movement of goods; increase access to markets; and allow private sector investment in supply chain and logistics infrastructure.

“Cross-border collaboration will be important, with this key transport hub providing a critical economic growth connection to our diverse region.”

The government will also continue working with the private sector to develop innovative precincts such as Molonglo’s Dairy Road project between Fyshwick and the Jerrabomberra Wetlands..

Mr Barr said Molonglo would be working with the planning authority to deliver an energy-efficient project including a new wetland, native landscape and ecologically-based architecture.

“Dairy Road is proposed to provide opportunities for local enterprise to incubate new ideas, fabricate new products, establish partnerships and make direct connections with customers, and be part of an economy that is cleaner, fairer and more responsible.”

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very poorly planned city and no one can afford to live there anymore
every planning stage of this city has been poor……….. very poor
and cm barr all he does is gives you lies inside lies as it doesn’t matter to him he walks out set up no matter what
and you dummys voted him back in again ………. you know you all deserve to be ripped off by higher rates and tax from this clueless goverment
am so glad i left

The ACT government is not investor friendly at all and anyone with any common sense would not invest in Canberra. There are 25% less property investors (which means 25% less rental properties) in Canberra now compared to 2019 – since the introduction of all the horrific anti-landlord laws (the harshest and most restrictive law in Australia). Many investors in Canberra have sold their investment properties because of the awful ACT government. There is a big reduction now in rental stock, and as a result rental prices are now the highest in Australia. But keep on going ACT government – be proud that no one wants to invest here anymore and your policies are driving investors away!

jorie1 wrote “ anyone with any common sense would not invest in Canberra” and then wrote “rental prices are now the highest in Australia”
jorie1, do you notice any conflict between your statements? Others do.
“There are 25% less [sic] property investors (which means 25% less [sic] rental properties)”
Are you sure of your equation?
“…horrific anti-landlord laws (the harshest and most restrictive law in Australia). “
Other lobbyists beg to differ:
Perhaps you could lobby each other.
Meanwhile, what is your considered view of the longer term national economic impacts of improving rental security amid declining home ownership?

So where are those new Ken Behrens supposed to live? We have a housing affordability issue. I suppose to help Mr Snow and his Canberra Airport out we could have FIFO workers coming from Sydney and Melbourne. As for Canberra being open for business, I thought it always was. The question is how do you balance an expanding country town with requirements for city infrastructure and maintain wellbeing and liveability? Lovely set of ‘thought bubbles’.

Caren Florance7:12 am 18 Mar 22

All good for business. When are they going to tackle the shonky rental market? There are hundreds of substandard unregulated ‘granny flats’ out there and terrible landlords and no efficient and effective way to report them. Tenants are powerless and live in insecure situations. Under the gloss of the ACT is a grotty underbelly.

HiddenDragon7:48 pm 17 Mar 22

“The ‘CBR Switched On’ strategy will also be driven by transformative projects such as the Big Canberra Battery and the Canberra Airport freight hub.”

With the Western Sydney airport due to open in the mid-2020s, the idea that Canberra Airport as a freight hub would be transformative for the ACT economy is interesting, to say the least.

This article, from five years ago, mentions a report (now disappeared from the net), commissioned by the ACT Government, ” that found the evidence in favour of the idea was rather tentative” –


Capital Retro6:46 am 18 Mar 22

As long as Canberra is still classified as a “Rural Destination” by AQIS there will be no international freight hub at Canberra Airport.

And I would like to know what products will be “fabricated” on Dairy Road.

Apart from that it is good to see CBR doing something other than being a conduit for sponsoring ACT sporting teams.

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