I am very pleased to have the opportunity today to talk about the importance of urban renewal in Civic and in our town centres. We are all proud of Canberra; it is truly a wonderful place to live. As we all know, this government has a clear plan for urban renewal and for our town centres.
Our latest budget will deliver more funding for urban and suburban renewal in particular, including revitalising our shopping centres, maintaining our playgrounds, mowing our suburbs and cleaning our lakes. We will see an additional $8 million invested over the next four years for more frequent mowing across Canberra’s 4,500 hectares of urban open space, weed control on major thoroughfares, maintenance of trees, shrubs, lakes and ponds and anti-graffiti measures.
Urban renewal and maintenance is a core function of the territory government and is something Labor is committed to. We are renewing public housing, initiating planning reforms and redeveloping significant areas of our city, in particular town centres—all efforts that will create a better Canberra. In my region of Gungahlin, the town centre is extremely important, as I know the town centres are across the city. Each has its own history and character, and this government understands this deeply. We understand, for example, what it will mean to town centres to lose jobs, in particular how devastating the loss of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection would be to the Belconnen town centre.
Although Gungahlin is one of the ACT’s younger regions, we need investment in services to ensure the region can keep pace with the incredible population growth we are seeing. The establishment of a brand-new office block, Winyu House, in the Gungahlin town centre earlier this year is central to the town centre’s success. Winyu House is home to some 650 ACT government workers, mainly from ACT Shared Services. It also houses the Access Canberra shopfront and hosts a childcare centre and a vibrant new cafe.
Not only does Winyu House bring 650 workers into the town centre to shop at local shops and boost the local economy; it also ensures there is local employment opportunity in the heart of Gungahlin. Most people living in Gungahlin leave each day to go to work, but Winyu House ensures there is a public service presence in our region, just as there is in Canberra’s other town centres.
As Gungahlin grows, there are other opportunities for how our urban core develops appropriately. For example, I am currently running a survey to find out what people think of the future of Hibberson Street. Some people would like to see it closed to traffic permanently. Others think it should be a shared zone similar to Bunda Street, closed only during the day or perhaps one way. Whatever the outcome, it is clear people would like to see some change on this thoroughfare now that it is busier and livelier. It is clear people want to see more feet on Hibberson Street. Changing Hibberson Street shows that urban renewal does not have to mean knocking down buildings and starting again. (Time expired.)