There was no surprise that the latest survey of migration in Canberra had Tuggeranong losing so many of its burghers to Gungahlin. Tuggeranong is indeed the Cinderella of the South and always was and always will be.
This is because the planners, pollies and mandarins both commonwealth and territory have decided it shall be so.
I saw a huge migration in 1996/97 when the small business sector was decimated here after 7,500 public service jobs disappeared from the region. The trickle-down effect killed off many support industries and I doubt if the Valley has really recovered.
This has been exacerbated by the uncertainty caused by the federal governments, of both persuasions, over staff reductions and staff movements to more salubrious digs closer to the seats of power. Moving ACT public servants to Gungahlin has given life to that newer area – to the detriment of Tuggeranong.
That the city should be home to the majority of public servants is a fallacy and given we are now in the e-age, the distribution of these jobs can be linked to the vibrancy of a particular town centre, not its continued disadvantage.
Whilst I don’t wish to deny Gungahlin its fortune in receiving a host of public servants, I do think that the errors of previous governments in relation to the sentencing of Tuggeranong to be a series of “dormitory suburbs” should be addressed first.
Let us see the unequal distribution of job and activity attracting facilities in the regions and one will see why Tuggeranong doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the promises of pollies. At this stage, I declare that my pessimism is drawn from my frequent and fruitless rantings, beggings, pleadings, bullyings and entreaties on behalf of the Valley over 15 years. And I see that my erstwhile colleague Brendan Smythe, and my successor MLAs of all three persuasions have fared no better.
Let’s compare Belconnen and Central Canberra with Tuggeranong. Central Canberra being from Watson to Mawson.
There is a private and public hospital with the addition of another in the UC in Belconnen, there are two private hospitals and one public hospital in Central Canberra. There are no hospitals in Tuggeranong.
There are significant industrial opportunities in central Canberra through Fyshwick, Phillip and Mitchell, Belconnen has a thriving industrial area. Tuggeranong has a very minor industrial presence in Greenway and there is Hume which is not part of Tuggeranong anyway.
Belconnen has a thriving retail area, Civic has the retail and entertainment hub of Canberra, and Tuggeranong has a struggling Hyperdome.
Belconnen has the Stadium (of some different name each season) and the AIS. Central Canberra has the Lyneham Sports complex, Manuka and Phillip Ovals, Tuggeranong has Greenway Oval which is rarely used by elite sports.
Belconnen has a university and a major CIT presence, Central Canberra has three universities and the major CIT presence, Tuggeranong has a very minor CIT presence.
Some years ago I did a rough tally of the numbers of public servants in each of the town centres and the order was something like Tuggeranong 4,000, City, 12,000, Belconnen, 12,000. These figures are probably rubbery now but the ratio remains the same.
The private sector follows the public sector because that’s where the discretionary spending is. We are seeing Woden starting to suffer because of the threat of Commonwealth public servants being moved out of the area. This is a fact of life in Tuggeranong.
But not all is doom and gloom. You may remember that Cinderella was the most beautiful of the three sisters. And so it is for Tuggeranong in relation to the other two. Check out the photo.
Cinderella was rescued by a handsome Prince. Well, we are waiting Prince Charming. All we see at the moment are cane toads promising the world.
I love the Valley because it is beautiful, it is quiet, it has just enough entertainment for my selfish self and its citizens are welcoming.
Tell you what though. A tram from Woden to Tuggeranong along Athllon Drive would be a good idea!
BTW… the introduction of medium density housing into the town centre precinct is helpful. Let’s see more of it.
It is said that “if you build it, they will come”. See what happened in Gungahlin, in Molonglo. Heaps of new homes and people falling over themselves to buy up big. What about Tuggeranong? Its aging infrastructure, its aging housing, its lack of decent facilities will sentence it to the forever sleep that the Sleeping Beauty suffered. Again, the need for a handsome Prince.
The creation of a new West Tuggeranong across the Murrumbidgee will actually create a two-tiered system in the area with the newbies living on one side and the Cinderellas on the other.
So OK guys and gals, the federal election is next year, so is the ACT election. Let’s see the colour of your money and the breadth of your vision.