Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee is calling on the ACT Government to return more taxpayer dollars to rejuvenating Canberra’s “deteriorating” suburbs.
Ms Lee moved a motion in the Legislative Assembly this week for the government to invest more in the ACT’s suburbs and local neighbourhoods.
She said the ACT Government is collecting a “record amount” of taxes from Canberrans, yet basic maintenance of the capital’s suburbs is steadily declining.
“Canberrans are feeling let down and neglected as they look around their neighbourhoods and see broken footpaths, overgrown verges and parks, roads riddled with potholes, overflowing rubbish bins, playgrounds that are unkempt and grass not mown,” Ms Lee said.
“Every single day, I receive complaints from constituents who are fed up with the state of their suburbs, fed up with waiting weeks, months, sometimes years for things to be fixed and fed up with being neglected by this Labor-Greens government.”
“The extra hundreds of millions of dollars Andrew Barr is collecting from Canberra ratepayers year after year is not going back into our neighbourhoods. It’s not going back into our suburbs and it is clearly not going into our essential local services.”
Ms Lee called the Labor-Greens government “arrogant” and “out of touch” for consistently failing to address the “long-term neglect and utter lack of care” for Canberra’s suburbs.
The Canberra Liberals have previously called on the ACT Government to introduce measures to ensure ACT neighbourhoods are well maintained.
Shadow Minister for City Services City Nicole Lawder moved a motion in the Legislative Assembly last month to develop a suburban maintenance strategy aimed at improving Canberra suburbs, but this was voted down by every Labor and Greens MLA.
“It has become very clear that this government has no interest in addressing our declining suburbs, which is why we have gone from a city befitting of the nation’s capital to a city that looks tired and neglected,” Ms Lawder said.
Andrew Braddock, the Greens spokesperson for better neighbourhoods, said while investment in local suburbs is always welcomed, there are already mechanisms in place to ensure locals can have their say on what improvements are needed.
“There are already frameworks in place by the government that govern how we invest in our local suburbs,” he said.
He pointed out that the government has launched a pilot neighbourhood democracy program, where people in Canberra suburbs can make decisions on how the government invests in their local area.
Asked whether ACT suburbs had been neglected by the Labor-Greens government, he said: “Absolutely not”.
“We’ve been investing heavily in the local suburbs and being able to support them and actually deciding what they want to do, as I mentioned by the trial where we’re actually giving local suburbs the control over what they want to see in their suburbs. And that’s really exciting for us to see,” he said.
Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel said the government is already investing in city services and city maintenance across the ACT.
He said that Ms Lee’s motion doesn’t provide any details about what would be invested in or where it would be funded.
“I think what’s revealing about Ms Lee’s motion today is that despite the ACT Government having substantial plans, many of which come from community consultation and election commitments that we made at the last election, the Canberra Liberals and Ms Lee don’t have any plan in relation to the suburbs and the maintenance of our suburbs,” he said.
Mr Steel said that in the last election, the Canberra Liberals had “no policy” regarding suburban maintenance, whereas the Labor-Greens government is “getting on with” following its election promises and budget commitments in line with priorities set by the community.
He hit back at Ms Lee’s claims the government was being arrogant.
“Consultation with the community and acting on their priorities is not arrogant; it’s what governments should be doing,” he said.