Roads and roadwork are clearly where the pain is in Gungahlin, but I believe this is only a symptom of a long term inability to plan for the future. This inability may be caused by many things, but the only concern I have for the reasons of the past are learning from them to address the future.
The Gungahlin Drive project was tied up in the courts for some time, and we were eventually given the excuse that legal costs would mean only a single lane in each direction would be constructed. No sooner had that project been complete, would planning begin on the duplication.
The newest section of Horsepark Drive was opened approximately 18 months before its duplication was announced and funded. The excuse that there is no funding available to do these jobs right the first time does not stand up when our government turns around and funds the expensive revisions immediately afterwards. It seems that short term planning to save money has cost taxpayers more than having a job done properly in one go.
“Unsolicited proposals” are when a private developer approaches the government with what they believe is a good spend of taxpayer money. These proposals can bring innovation and value to Canberra, and there are guidelines in place to strive for accountability, fairness and transparency. While these proposals are meant to align with the government’s strategic agenda, a number of these proposals tend to assume a variation to the Territory Plan.
I believe that when an unsolicited proposal requires a variation to the Territory Plan, it inherently does not align with the government’s strategic agenda. It may still be a valuable, innovative idea, however public consultation should happen at an earlier stage in these cases, and additional transparency and accountability measures need to be introduced.
I believe we need to reconsider the way we plan things in the ACT. We should be able to look to the future and make investments in infrastructure that will ensure the long term prosperity of Canberra as a whole, but also local regions such as Yerrabi.
Too often, community is surprised by projects and decisions announced by government. While I have seen first hand community engagement from the government, the current approach is clearly not working, when the population is continually caught off guard. We need to revise the way planning is communicated, aiming for something more transparent and two-way.