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Thursday, 25 August 1983
Page: 291


Mrs KELLY —by leave-I have been stirred to speak as a result of some of the comments made by the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock). As the representative of the Canberra electorate-an electorate which currently includes about 33,000 people living within the Tuggeranong Valley, the area referred to by the honourable member for Dundas-I think it essential that a few facts be brought to light in this debate. First of all, the main objection that the honourable member for Dundas and his Opposition colleagues have to the majority report concerns the size of the proposed shopping complex to be built at the Erindale Centre in the Tuggeranong Valley. The honourable member for Dundas has expressed certain reservations about the planning procedures behind the building of this shopping centre. There is no doubt that the National Capital Development Commission must be criticised for the lack of any overall plan for the development of retail space in the Tuggeranong Valley.

The facts of the situation are that today, 33,000 people in the Tuggeranong Valley have hardly any shopping area at all. In total there are about 25 shops for 33,000 people. There has been a great delay in getting further retail space built simply because the NCDC has been trying to work out the size of the complex to be built there. We have ended up with this situation because of the stop-go planning procedures of the previous Government. Originally, the Tuggeranong Valley was supposed to grow at the rate of about 10 per cent per annum. Had Canberra the growth that was planned for it in the early 1970s, there would now be a population of about 70,000 in the valley. In that context it was proposed that a very large town centre, about the size of the Belconnen Mall, be built. That centre was to be built for a population of about 70,000, growing to about 120,000. Of course, after seven years of Fraser Government policy, the whole situation changed. There was a rapid downturn in growth. The NCDC just talked about what it was going to do and left the people in the valley with no retail space. Today the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory is forced to say: 'We may have some reservations about the size, but the reality is that we do not have a choice any more to argue about it. We need to get that facility now'.

The honourable member for Dundas made the point that this area was not very accessible. But the reality is that the people out there are so desperate for retail shopping areas that they will not care about that aspect. They just want to have some space within the area of the valley. If the Government takes the recommendations of the honourable member for Dundas and his colleagues we will find that in two years, three years, or probably five years time, there will still be no retail shopping space in the valley. The majority report determined that we support the 14,000-square metre space simply to get something under way. As a representative of the people in that area, I believe that this Government has an obligation and a duty to provide those facilities as soon as it can. Even if the decision is made today that the NCDC go ahead with that 14,000-square metre shopping complex, it will not be up for at least 18 months. By that time the valley will have a population of 42,000. So what the Committee is now saying is that 42,000 people deserve at least the bare minimum of 14,000 square metres of shopping complex.

I believe that the speech by the honourable member for Dundas is a great example of why the people of the Australian Capital Territory urgently need some form of territorial government. The day should be coming to an end when people who do not live in this Territory and who have very little to do with this Territory make the decisions that affect the lives of the people of this Territory. I hope that before the term of this Parliament is out, some progress will be made to ensure that debates such as this do not continue but, rather, that the people of the Territory make their own decisions on the facilities they need in their own area.