19 August 2020

Liberal pledges on West Basin, North Curtin Horse Paddock ignite election

| Ian Bushnell
Join the conversation
Giulia Jones and Alistair Coe

Liberal Leader Alistair Coe and Giulia Jones at the North Curtin Horse Paddocks. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

West Basin and the North Curtin Horse Paddock are now key election battlegrounds after the Canberra Liberals pledged to save both from the current development plans.

The ACT Government immediately said the move would set back plans for West Basin by a decade and that the horse paddock pledge would be impossible to deliver, given the Commonwealth had the power to designate any ACT land for a national purpose, such as the planned diplomatic estate.

But the Liberals are betting on the current plans for West Basin and the horse paddock deal being unpopular and evidence of ”secret deals” to develop the Bush Capital and at any cost.

Leader Alistair Coe would not rule out altogether mixed-use development of West Basin but promised a ”proper consultation” so Canberrans could decide what would they like there.

He said the government should be consolidating development that is happening all around the city not planning more apartments at West Basin.

”My vision for that precinct is for a properly maintained green space, where people can actually congregate and enjoy the national capital and enjoy the lake,” he said.

”There is scope for improvements to the paths and a cafe or two, but to simply sell out and put 10-storey apartment buildings around the precinct is wrong, and our city just doesn’t need it.”

READ ALSO West Basin to be a garden city precinct by the water, says new plan

He also ruled out reclaiming the lake bed, which he called an extravagant and expensive proposition.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said successive Liberal federal governments had signed off on changes to the National Capital Plan allowing redevelopment of West Basin, including some form of housing.

He said the proposals set out under the recent Place Plan included parkland and small-scale mixed-used development with a 55-metre buffer zone from the lake edge.

”Ultimately what people will see over the next five years will be a few cafes and restaurants and a much larger green space in the Acton waterfront,” Mr Barr said

”In the end, what do we want from the lakefront? Do we want a place that people can use, and a space for some small-scale commercial activity? I don’t think there will be much opposition to Canberrans having a coffee by the lake at West Basin.”

Chief Minister Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr holding the Commonwealth Gazette of the Curtin Horse paddocks. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Originally, 2000 apartments had been mooted for West Basin along Commonwealth Avenue but Mr Barr said recently that it would now be hundreds and they would be low-rise.

They can only be considered in the second half of the decade after the current plans to reclaim the lake bed, extend the boardwalk from Henry Rolland Park, and build the parkland are complete.

Local MLA and frontbencher Giulia Jones said a Liberal government would also rip up the horse paddock deal with the National Capital Authority.

”I have had conversations with the federal Liberal Party and I am confident we can unpick this deal,” she said, without going into details.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the federal Liberal Minister of Territories, Nola Marino, had signed off on the gazetting of the land.

READ ALSO Shock and outrage at West Basin land swap with Curtin horse paddocks

He said the Liberals needed to say where the diplomatic estate planned for the horse paddock would go, but Mrs Jones dismissed this, saying there was plenty of land for embassies in Canberra.

”There are many steps to the deal that are required to be undertaken both at the ACT level and the federal level,” Mrs Jones said. ”We will not be undertaking our part of the deal.”

Acting Lake Burley Griffin Guardians convenor Michael Lawson welcomed the Liberals announcement, and its acknowledgement of Lake Burley Griffin as a national treasure.

He said the ACT Government was wanting to reclaim the 2.8 ha of the lake bed so it can make room to build apartments, and was in effect wanting to privatise the space.

”This has been consulted like a Canberra real estate development when the lake is a national asset,” he said. “There needs to be much wider consultation around Australia about the lake because it doesn’t just belong to people to turn off for developable land in Canberra.”

The group believes West Basin is an iconic location and has called for an international design competition so it can become a world-class public space.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Capital Retro6:14 pm 21 Aug 20

Does anyone seriously believe the claim that it will be used as a “planned diplomatic estate”?

The COVID 19 pandemic (which has only just started) has changed everything, forever. Embassies and diplomatic missions will rapidly decline, globally from now on. Consulates will last a little longer.

People are starting to realise that overseas travel will never return to what it used to be and adapt accordingly. Migration to Australia will cease.
New ways are being discovered to cover the “essential” services that are carried out by embassies so they will be shut down just like 1 hour photo shops were.

So, will the ACT Green/Labor government now come clean with us about what will happen to the land?

Please, not another arboretum.

Haha good point on corruption! Remember Giulia in 2014?
The Liberals defied strong advice from Assembly Clerk Tom Duncan not to allow an adviser to travel overseas on the public purse when they took Giulia Jones’ senior adviser to Europe and Korea to study prostitution laws.

Mr Duncan told Speaker Vicki Dunne that taxpayers’ money should not be used for staff member Danielle Young to travel with Ms Jones, Mrs Dunne and Mrs Dunne’s husband.

russianafroman9:32 pm 20 Aug 20

It seems Labor has became very liberal right (pro business, pro development), while the liberals have became authoritarian right (religion etc). The greens on the other hand seem to embrace many principles of the left especially the grassroots left.

“Won’t somebody pleeeze think about the equestrians!”

Read between the lines folks

HiddenDragon7:32 pm 19 Aug 20

Most of the (otherwise) Labor voters who are unhappy about these developments will tell themselves that giving the Greens their first preference (and Labor their second) will “send a message” and somehow solve the problem – but at least then they’ll have something mid-range to be cross about for the next four years.

Yep, horse paddocks. Because Canberrans just love horses so much, being an endangered native animal and all.

The Liberals honestly seem to be trying their best to lose as many votes as possible.

How they possibly think these issues will win them votes is beyond me.

“We found it guys. The hot button issue that’s gonna win us this election. Once we have the Costigan vote wrapped up we are home free. Now let’s start drafting up some laws to make prayer compulsory in school”

I think the Lake “Guardian” vote is also important. Although we’ll need to forget that many of them don’t even live in Canberra and can’t vote for us anyway.

Maybe run on a ‘free cardigans for all who want them’ platform.

You never know Heavs, the four people that read Mr Parklands diatribes in the Citynews might make all the difference….. 😛

Giulia Jones’s promise to reverse the NCA’s annexation of the Curtin Horse Paddocks has shades of Jon Stanhope’s bold claim that he would force the NCA to adopt the western alignment for the Gungahlin Drive Extension to save the O’Connor Ridge.

Remember how well that worked out?

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.