Labor backbencher Dr Marisa Paterson is urging Canberra to become the world’s second National Park City, a move which she said could help “divorce Parliament House” from people’s perceptions of Canberra.
To become a National Park City, the ACT Government would need to undertake community consultation and prove that Canberra had a focus on the environment, including the provision of green spaces, air and water quality and wildlife and habitat protection.
The accolade, administered by the National Park City Foundation, would give Canberra an edge in the tourism market by highlighting the Bush Capital’s scenic environment and sustainability, Dr Paterson said.
“It is a beautiful place to come visit and live, and we really want to promote that,” she said.
“Given COVID, we are in a very competitive tourism environment nationally and internationally, and this is a way we can stand out in that market.”
Marred by the conflation of Canberra and Parliament House, Dr Paterson said the city was more than the policies and actions of federal parliamentarians on the Hill.
“Canberra residents are sick of hearing ‘Canberra’ referred to when people are talking about Parliament House and we have a lot to offer here and we want to promote our city,” Dr Paterson said.
“It means putting what we have to offer on display, and we have a huge amount, [including our] bush heritage.”
London is the only city to be recognised as a National Park City, but at least five other cities, including Adelaide, have expressed interest in being recognised by the Foundation.
Dr Paterson said there was no definitive timeline for accreditation given community consultation was needed, but she was hoping the process would take months rather than years.
More information about National Park Cities can be found at www.nationalparkcity.org.