CANBERRA, with a single government that merges state and local council responsibilities, ought to be in the box seat to streamline urban development.
The ACT Government is the primary landholder; we have a focused, informed and positive community; and smart local business groups willing to innovate.
And yet, Canberra does not always stack up for investors.
Onerous red tape, taxes, fees and charges act as a deterrent to investment in our city.
Our community is missing out on exciting new projects that would bring diversity, vibrancy and beauty to our urban spaces and, ironically, the Territory’s bottom-line is also impacted as the Government foregoes ongoing revenue from potential rates and land tax – money that could be re-invested in our communities.
Across the nation, cities are stimulating investment in exciting renewal projects, among them the unveiling of Brisbane’s draft “City Centre Master Plan”, plans to revitalise the Adelaide river bank and the revival of Newcastle’s CBD.
These projects and others around the country are attracting a lot of interest as they compete for the same money and resources – with all the resultant economic and social benefits.
Canberra should be open for business with an economic base that competes with the best in the nation. The “City Plan” and “City to the Lake” initiative have the potential to renew the city’s heart, but without strategic incentives to encourage investment the plans might prove nothing more than fodder for recycling.
The fact is that we need to compete as a city for limited capital dollars. If there are more attractive, exciting prospects elsewhere that are less hard work and that have higher return prospects than here, then we are living in dreamland.
Catherine Carter is ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia