ACT News


ACT government looking to lock in Canberra as heart of public service in Commonwealth 'city deal'

ACT chief minister Andrew Barr will ask the federal government to reaffirm its commitment to Canberra as the heart of the Australian public service as part of a new "city deal" under negotiation.

Both governments have agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding, the details of which are yet to be nutted out.

However Mr Barr said keeping Canberra as the national public service centre would be a key ask in any future deal.

"I spoke to [Nationals Senator] Fiona Nash this afternoon and we had a productive discussion about how they can fulfil their decentralisation agenda without doing damage to Canberra" Mr Barr said.

"I've had some reassurance from Senator Nash that they'll take a very sensible and considered approach and that decentralisation out of Canberra is not their primary objective and that they are more focused on Sydney and Melbourne which I was pleased to hear."

Also on the ACT government's wish list is further investment in Canberra's national institutions, including Questacon, the National Gallery and the National Museum of Australia.


The government will also seek the federal government's help on stage two of light rail, and a possible extension to Russell or the airport, re-aligning Parkes Way as part of the City to the Lake project, and boosting road freight networks with regional areas.

"If we are to progress a significant change to Parkes Way the Commonwealth would in the very least need to give planning approval for it but given part of the road is their asset and they own some of the land around that there may be some opportunities for them to leverage off an infrastructure investment there which would be a value capture proposition," Mr Barr said.

"We know they're looking to divest Anzac Park East and West. Were that to be for example on the route of a light rail extension to the Russell defence precinct then the value of that land would be much greater and it would be the Commonwealth who would benefit from that uplift because they own the land."

Townsville and Launceston have already struck similar deals with the Commonwealth and all Australian capitals are expected to reach similar agreements.

Meanwhile the chief minister has revealed Canberrans can expect consultation to begin on the first proposed routes of the light rail to Woden next month.