A NEW portfolio of Minister for Urban Renewal will bring together infrastructure renewal and the promotion of social and cultural activity at a suburban level, according to ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who this week announced a reshuffled ministry.
Mr Barr, who was promoted to the top job following last month's resignation of former Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, will take on the newly-created Urban Renewal portfolio, as well as the existing portfolios of Economic Development, Tourism and Events, and Treasurer.
"I am determined to make the best of modern suburban design, innovative policy and reformed taxes, not only to support dynamic and vibrant communities, but to keep the maximum downward pressure on the cost of housing – especially for private sector workers and middle and low-income earners," Mr Barr said.
Mick Gentleman retains responsibility for the Planning and Industrial Relations portfolios, and also gains another new portfolio, Roads and Parking. The portfolio includes the high-level coordination of road works and increased parking options, such as park and ride.
"A key responsibility will be roads in growing areas of the city like Tuggeranong, Belconnen, Molonglo Valley and Gungahlin and taking a smarter approach to road works and parking," Mr Barr said.
Another two new portfolios for Minister assisting the Chief Minister have also been created. Shane Rattenbury will assist with Transport Reform in the ACT and the Territory's newest Minister, Yvette Berry, will assist with Social Inclusion and Equality.
"Ultimately this agenda is all about creating a city that supports jobs. It is about working with local communities and business on local renewal projects – such as the shop renewals at Lyons and Scullin and the revitalisation of Farrer, Waramanga, New Acton and Braddon," the Chief Minister said.
"It is also about an innovative transport system that takes a coordinated approach to buses, light rail, taxis, bicycles and cars. If our city is easier to get around, it is easier to do business."
The ministerial reshuffle – and the sharpened focus on urban development and housing affordability – was welcomed by the Property Council of Australia.
"We welcome the prioritisation of urban development in 2015, as Chief Minister Andrew Barr assumes responsibility for the new Urban Renewal portfolio," said the Property Council's ACT Executive Director, Catherine Carter.
"Industry looks forward to working with the newly-minted Minister Berry in the housing portfolio, and with Minister Rattenbury as he assumes responsibility for transport reform.
"Canberra must prioritise urban renewal in our town centres – and most particularly in Civic. The ambitions laid out in the ACT Government's City Plan – to attract more residents to the city centre, to reduce through-traffic, improve connections across the city and to the lake, and create a modern built environment – are encouraging, but more work needs to be done. The new Ministry of Urban Renewal is a good start.
"We are optimistic that the new ministry presents an opportunity to address the pressing issues slowing down investment in urban renewal projects – including onerous red tape, taxes, fees and charges," Ms Carter concluded.
Photo 1: Advertising for proposed 'Campbell 5' development in Canberra / 'Premium Mixed Use Development, we hope!' / spelio / Licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Photo 2: 'At The End Of The Tunnel' / Sam Ilić / Licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0.