Standing up for Canberra

Postcode 2900

Canberrans rejoiced last week when the rest of the country was made aware of something we have known for a long time – Canberra is Australia’s most liveable city.

Auspoll’s annual survey My City: The People’s Verdict asked over 5000 Australians to rank their city against a set of 17 attributes. And Canberra came out on top.

Canberra shone when it came to recreational spaces, low pollution, safety and good healthcare, schools and universities.

However, housing affordability remains an issue.

The Property Council, who commissioned the survey, has called on the ACT government to think more creatively about how to increase the supply of homes. One suggestion is allowing more flexibility to turn disused commercial buildings into residential space.

My electorate office is in the Tuggeranong town centre, where we currently have a number of empty offices.  My office is at the bottom of a building that was once home to Defence staff, but they relocated about a year ago and the space has been vacant since.

Empty office space means less life and vitality in a town centre. It also means less people patronising local business, less economic activity, less growth and less prosperity.

While the master plan and Southquay will give the Tuggeranong town centre a facelift and a significant injection of life, a new approach to dealing with empty office space would provide an additional boost.

When Chris and I were in Melbourne in 2005 we lived in an apartment on Little Collins Street. The apartment was in the building that housed the old George’s, which was formerly a cyclorama! The apartment was developed under the Melbourne City Council’s Postcode 3000 project, which encouraged people to convert disused warehouses and office buildings into apartments. It’s been a great success, and 20 years on has enlivened what was described as “an empty useless city centre”.

To keep the heart of Tuggeranong pumping, and improve housing affordability, why don’t we turn the empty offices into residential spaces? Why don’t we embark on a Postcode 2900?  


Canberra Chronicle, March 2014