Cabinet Papers: 1984-1985

The Hyperdome shopping mall, which Labor decided would be privately built.

The Hyperdome shopping mall, which Labor decided would be privately built. Photo: The Canberra Times

 

A larger Erindale centre had been considered as an alternative, but in 1985 the Hawke government decided to push ahead with the development of the Tuggeranong town centre.

Free from past socialist approaches, the Labor cabinet decided the new Tuggeranong shopping mall would be privately constructed.

Cabinet also decided to proceed with the privatisation of the Belconnen Mall, which had been first planned by the Fraser government.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the National Capital Development Commission had considered an alternative to the Tuggeranong Centre: an 18,000-square-metre retail and commercial centre able to serve a population of 50,000.

But in 1985, Tuggeranong had a population of 45,000, which was increasing by 10 per cent each year. It was expected to reach 90,000 by 1994.

''… the rapid turnaround in growth in the last three years, and the need to quickly resume large-scale land development in Tuggeranong, made it imperative that the original town centre proposal should go ahead,'' a cabinet memo said.

Former territories minister Tom Uren had planned for the government-owned Canberra Commercial Development Authority to develop the new Tuggeranong shopping centre. But in May 1985, with the development under the stewardship of new territories minister Gordon Scholes, cabinet agreed to the private development of the Tuggeranong town centre.

The NCDC would spend $19.3 million on infrastructure development for the proposed town centre but this should be offset by the sale of serviced sites for the mall, service station, secondary retail activities and an office building.

Criticism of the plan was expected from the commercial development authority, unions and some sections of the Labor Party. A paper from the Finance Department explained the background to the establishment of the CCDA and public ownership of Belconnen Mall.

''The reason for the government ever becoming involved in a shopping mall was largely a concern [back in about 1972] that the private sector was incapable for providing on a competitive basis an appropriate range of retail services in Belconnen. This situation would no longer exist.

''A further selling point was that the CCDA would generate substantial funds to provide community facilities for Belconnen residents. Thirteen years on, these facilities have not materialised.''

Belconnen Mall was sold in 1986 to the Superannuation Fund Investment Trust and Westfield Property Trust for $87 million.