6 November 2023

Lee to launch election fight with $100m policy to lift Canberra’s 'neglected' suburbs

| Ian Bushnell
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woman in dress with arms out

ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee will make a major speech today outlining her vision for Canberra. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

The Canberra Liberals will take a $100 million policy aimed at upgrading what they call Canberra’s neglected suburbs to the 2024 election in a bid to tap into ratepayer discontent about whether they are getting value for money from an “out-of-touch” Government.

The Putting Your Suburb First policy will be announced today in a major speech at the National Press Club from ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee outlining her vision for Canberra less than a year out from the polls.

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The speech will also list her priority policy areas, including housing and transport, two clear points of difference from the Barr Government.

Under Ms Lee’s new policy, every suburb in Canberra would be eligible for additional funding for local community projects that would directly benefit residents, neighbourhood areas and the environment.

Ms Lee said this was not business as usual but about investing Canberrans’ hard-earned rates directly back into their suburbs.

“This funding will be aimed at much-needed community facilities that have for too long been neglected under this Labor-Greens Government,” Ms Lee said.

“Our suburbs and neighbourhoods are the bedrock of our city. They are the places where we live, where we bring up our children, where we socialise with friends and family, go to school and where we come together as a community.

“It is in our suburbs, the heart of our community, where I start building my vision for a better Canberra.”

Ms Lees said the policy would allocate funding based on the number of households in each suburb, with a larger amount focused on the bigger, older suburbs.

Residents would be able to make a case for funding for their local neighbourhoods based on what they needed.

“This policy recognises that each Canberra suburb is unique and it’s the people who live there that know what their community needs,” Ms Lee said.

“This policy will put the choice firmly in the hands of the community on what they want to see in their own suburb.

“The ACT Labor-Greens Government has neglected our suburbs for far too long and their own Better Suburbs program has been more smoke and mirrors, as highlighted by the current sorry state of many of our suburbs.”

The Liberals have revealed few details but Mr Lee’s speech will talk about providing “genuine opportunities” for home ownership, hinting at more support for first-home buyers and the release of more and cheaper land on which to build unattached family homes.

She will also highlight a “practical” transport system and may put flesh on the party’s previously announced position of abandoning light rail after the completion of the leg to Commonwealth Park, in favour of a bus-only system.

She will talk about investing in frontline workers and getting the basics right, which could suggest a shift towards a leaner ACT government that focuses on basic services.

Ms Lee’s speech will outline her vision for improving the health system and Canberra’s schools.

The Liberals have consistently attacked the Government over the continuing poor performance of the ACT’s hospitals and the perceived declining performance of ACT public schools.

Ms Lee will promise to make the city safer, suggesting a law-and-order campaign that may focus on tightening the bail system, tougher sentencing, and boosting the powers and numbers of police.

She will also pledge to support small business, innovation and investment, and bring the world’s best events to Canberra. This could mean cutting red tape, and providing tax and rate relief, as well as investment incentives.

Those who have been pushing for a new city stadium will also be listening closely, given the overlooking of Canberra for major events is a key plank in their arguments.

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Ms Lee will also say how a Liberal government would look after the environment and wildlife.

“In one year, Canberrans will have a choice between a fresh, energetic Liberal team that I lead, and an arrogant, out-of-touch Labor-Greens Government,” she said.

“Canberra deserves a government that does not take the community for granted and a government that will genuinely listen and govern in the best interests of the people that it serves.

“Today is just the beginning and I look forward to making further announcements as we head towards the election in October next year.”

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HiddenDragon9:16 pm 06 Nov 23

“She will talk about investing in frontline workers and getting the basics right, which could suggest a shift towards a leaner ACT government that focuses on basic services.”

Good – the ACT clearly struggles to provide essential state-level services and some municipal services.

In the case of state-level services this is partly due to the diseconomies of scale inherent in small jurisdictions, but those problems are compounded by more than twenty years of embellishing the ACT administration with the bureaucratic symbols and artefacts of a big government, posturing progressive leftist world view – which means that significant money is wasted and patchy ministerial talents are too often distracted from the main job of government.

The ACT Liberals should stick with this approach, and not be frightened off by the dishonest scare campaign which has already started.

What hat are they plucking all that dough from? 100 million just rolls off the tongue for pollies

Elizabeth Lee is looking in the completely wrong direction if she wants to be Chief Minister. Rather than putting out nonsenical policies, the ACT Libs need to overhaul their culture. A hard-right party in Canberra is toxic. Get rid of the Zed influence, get in tune with the ACT electorate, and then build policies that reflect the “New Libs”.

Stephen Ellis2:35 pm 06 Nov 23

Hard right? You have to be kidding me. The ACT Liberals are barely right of centre. It probably looks hard right because of how far left this Greens-Labor Government has taken us.

You’ve got to be joking. This Barr/Rattenbury fiasco we’re stuck with is nothing short of a catastrophe for our community.

GrumpyGrandpa8:31 pm 06 Nov 23

Elizabeth Lee, hard-right

The thing that cracks me up is that there is a view that anyone who isn’t on the same page with the ALP-Greens alliance is hard-right!

It seems that the Canberra Libs need to become the ALP-Greens to no longer be hard-right.

The silly thing of course is that to Greens’ supporters, their alliance partners, the ALP , must seem so “hard-right”!

Left and their fear campains. Are you really that scared of the local libs?

It’s great she is trying to go to an election with more policy than previous liberal campaigns and their “we oppose everything” approach, but if she continues to try to kill the tram extension, she will lose. Opposing the tram already cost them two elections. The number of passenger journeys shows it is popular in the Gungahlin & north Canberra and people along corridors in other areas want their share of it. (And no, I’m not suggesting it is the total solution for all Canberra’s transport needs. There is still a need for buses and road networks, but it does address some major problems.)

What problems exactly does light rail solve for anyone on the south side of Canberra?

It will provide significantly slower service than current buses and the amount of expenditure required will see a further diminishing level of service provision across the board.

As for how “popular” it is on the north side, the number of users shows its currently below the ACT government’s projections in the business case. There’s only 7-8k people using it regularly, hardly what you’d call definitive, considering the overall population as a whole in the areas serviced.

It also creates more congestion in the path of their travel into the city.
Canberra was designed to be a car city.

Agreed chewy14! There is no way that the southside tram will pay for itself. We will all have massive increases in taxes and rates to pay for a white elephant.

The tram extension is nothing but a white elephant. It will cost an absolute fortune and won’t solve any issues for anyone living on the South of the lake.

There’s no other choice. If you want to use public transport from Gungahlin to the city you have to take the tram. There are no buses!

Yes it is nice, I quite like the tram but it is not cost efficient with my taxes. Electric buses running down the middle of Northbourne instead of tram would accomplish the same thing at a fraction of the cost.

GrumpyGrandpa8:21 pm 06 Nov 23

LR Gun to City only works because of traffic light sequencing and because buses no longer run between Gun and the City and their services have been rerouted to feed LR.
Buses from Woden to the City are a quicker option than LR and for vast amount of people getting from A to B quickly is a priority.

The question that southern Canberrans have to answer is do they want slower public transport or have that money spent on services to the community?

Personally, I’d rather jump LR than a bus, but not at the expense of my travel time or community services.

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