Residents wants the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to stay in the Tuggeranong town centre, pictured. Photo: Colleen Petch
Tuggeranong businesses have renewed hopes that the federal public servants who work in the southern town centre will be able to stay.
The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs has about 2200 staff scattered across six Canberra offices.
Most work in the Tuggeranong Office Park near the town's CBD, though about a third work in buildings in Woden.
The department issued a request for tender this week to find new offices to move into in 2017, when it hopes to consolidate its ACT workforce into two buildings.
Tuggeranong residents and businesses, including the Hyperdome shopping centre, have lobbied the government to keep the department's staff in the town, saying the local economy would be gutted if they left.
An earlier request for expressions of interest, which the department issued in March, had said the department preferred its offices to be in Woden or Tuggeranong, leading to fears that staff in one of the centres would be forced to move to the other.
However, the latest tender documents say the department's "current property strategy is to consolidate leased holdings to two office buildings (with a preference in Tuggeranong and/or Woden)".
Tuggeranong Community Council president Nick Tsoulias said on Thursday he now hoped the "status quo will remain, as it should".
"Two locations would be the best outcome for everyone: keep those public servants who want to live and work in Woden there, and the same for those who live in Tuggeranong," he said.
"We'll work very hard to keep these jobs in Tuggeranong. We'll campaign at this federal election in favour of whichever party supports us."
Mr Tsoulias said the loss of almost 2000 jobs from the town centre would have "dire effects in every possible way".
"Not just for Tuggeranong Hyperdome, but for passing trade everywhere else. The Anketell Street cafe strip will be closed down, childcare centres, too.
"We'll probably then need to look at the number of schools in the area."
The ACT government's latest population projections show that Canberra's overall population is expected to grow at a rate of 1.4 per cent a year between 2009 and 2021.
Yet, despite the forecast growth, Tuggeranong and Weston Creek are expected to slowly shrink.
Most of Canberra's growth is predicted to be in Gungahlin (4.9 per cent a year) and Molonglo (38.5 per cent a year).
Canberra MP Gai Brodtmann, who has coordinated a petition against the staff leaving Tuggeranong, said on Thursday she had spoken to the minister's office to express her views.
"I've been advocating for FaHCSIA to stay in Tuggeranong. I made sure they knew the importance of FaHCSIA to Tuggeranong and its businesses and residents, and the impact that a move would have."
She said she wanted every southside satellite city to be strong, "and that means a strong presence of public service jobs in each of those centres".
The department is seeking A-grade, secure, energy-efficient offices for at least 15 years from 2017.
The buildings must have a "high level of staff amenities provided by the base building, including showers, lockers and bicycle racks", and be "close to public services and a shopping/commercial centre".