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Central Pillars

  • 1. HOUSING

    We are facing a severe housing shortage in the ACT and urgently need to increase supply and improve affordability.

    Canberra is the second most expensive Australian city in which to rent and buy a home. The ACT’s rates of persistent homelessness are almost twice the national average. We need to expedite urban infill alongside greenfield developments in order to boost supply while maintaining Canberra’s character.

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    Dairy Road Residential Neighbourhood Visualisation / David Chipperfield Architects / Molonglo

    The infrastructure projects in this vision for Canberra should showcase the nation’s capital as Australia’s greenest city. We have an opportunity to demonstrate that a city can build infrastructure and prosper with sustainability front and centre while providing a local environment that enhances the relationship between people and nature.

    Sustainable, energy-efficient, low-carbon design principles should inform all new infrastructure constructed through the National Capital Investment Framework, with the built environment supported by conservation of the green spaces that make Canberra the ‘Bush Capital’.

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    Boeri Architects / Wonderwoods Utrecht
  • 3. EVENTS

    Our National Capital should have state-of-the-art facilities capable of hosting major domestic and international conferences, sports and music events. They should be centrally located, easily accessed via our growing light rail network, and supported by modernised sound laws that transform our night-time economy. It’s time we stopped missing out on the gigs, games and economic activity equivalent cities enjoy.

    Australia wants to host the Conference of the Parties (COP) and we should have the facilities to do that here in Canberra.

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    The ACT has the highest rate of startups in the country, Canberra is the second-most educated city in the OECD and people living in the capital take out patents at twice the national average.

    Cities around the world are leveraging public infrastructure to create innovation districts in and around their CBDs.

    With our world-class research & education institutions and emerging advanced tech ecosystem, we have an opportunity to follow suit and solidify our status as an innovation capital on the world stage. Doing so will help Canberra attract and retain first-rate talent, ensure more home-grown startups remain headquartered here as they scale, and build on our inherent strengths as a locus of high-quality knowledge work.

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    CBRIN First Wednesday Connect / Photox

    Canberra is repeatedly named one of the world’s most liveable cities but it needs to be better connected in order to achieve its full potential. Light and heavy rail upgrades are required to optimise connectivity both locally and into the surrounding region.

    A 4.5-hour train ride from Sydney to Canberra is not conducive to our vision of the National Capital as a global city, nor does it reflect our role as a regional hub servicing over half a million people from across the border.

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    The decisions we're making now will shape Canberra's future.

    After decades of underinvestment, we need a partnership and framework to realise a shared vision for our nation's capital.

    We can’t afford to build everything we need right away but we can work together to agree on a long-term plan for the future we want for our city.

    This website is a living document, bringing together ideas and ambition from ongoing community and stakeholder consultation.

    The Griffin Legacy / National Capital Authority

    Investment in building our future must recognise our unique position as the nation’s capital – maintaining and growing the public institutions we host while also committing to the essential infrastructure we need to prosper as a city.

    Canberra should be known across the world as Australia’s forward-thinking capital. It has all the ingredients to become a model city of the future populated by innovators with a strong social conscience and a belief in Australia as a leader on the global stage.

    We need a world-class infrastructure plan that grasps this opportunity to set Canberra up as a thriving international city while retaining its garden feel – a plan that reflects its status as our National Capital.

    Hill Thalis / Ross Caddaye / ACT Government

    City and Regional Deals were an initiative launched in 2015 to coordinate public and private investment in key infrastructure projects across Australia. Twelve City and Regional Deals have since been signed, delivering a total of almost $10 billion in Commonwealth funding to other states and territories.

    The ACT is the only jurisdiction receiving $0 of this funding.

    In April 2023, representatives of the local community joined ACT Independent Senator David Pocock in writing to the Prime Minister and ACT Chief Minister calling for them to rectify this historic underspend in the Territory’s infrastructure.

    In July 2023, the Prime Minister and ACT Chief Minister announced a new partnership agreement, the National Capital Investment Framework, for more collaborative infrastructure investment.


    Canberra is one of a handful of planned cities and is the largest Garden City in the world. Visionary design and planning work by Walter Burley and Marion Mahony Griffin emphasised the integration of natural landscapes, geometric patterns and community assets, shaping Canberra into the ‘Bush Capital’.

    “It is time to address the future. A far-sighted strategy is needed to ensure that the nation’s capital in the 21st century realises its potential.” (The Griffin Legacy, NCA, 2004)

    These ideas protect and build upon the Griffin Legacy to set our city up for the future, centralising urban infill and preserving the Bush Capital that Canberrans love.

    The Griffin Legacy / National Capital Authority

Key Projects

  • 1. Connect the City to the Lake

    Civic is currently cut off from the lake by Parkes Way. This was not part of Griffin’s plan for Canberra and has constrained access to Commonwealth Park and the Acton Waterfront while causing the city to be built with its back to the lake.

    Parkes Way should be tunnelled to connect the city to the lake and create a new corridor from ANU in the west to UNSW’s new campus and beyond in the east. Doing so will help free up 50,000 square metres of land for residential, retail, entertainment and hospitality opportunities in the south of the city while establishing the lake edge as a vibrant waterfront.

    Now is the time to realise this ‘City to the Lake’ vision, which was unveiled in March 2013 by then-Chief Minister Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher as part of the ACT Government’s Draft City Plan.

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    Hill Thalis / Ross Caddaye
  • 2. Unlock Land for Housing

    The Parkes Way works would unlock over 7,000 new dwellings in Civic, providing at least 15,000 more Canberrans with sustainable housing in a highly convenient location.

    Land should also be released for thousands more dwellings at CSIRO Ginninderra, on the old stadium site in Bruce and alongside a future eastern light rail loop.

    These new developments should contain a minimum 10% social and affordable housing target and must be serviced by good public and active transport routes to alleviate car dependency.

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    Judd Studio / Brett Boardman
  • 3. Build a New National Convention Centre in the City

    Canberra – from the Ngunnawal word kamberra (“meeting place”) – is an academic, political and cultural hub and was built as a place to gather. It should have world-class infrastructure for hosting major conferences, meetings and other corporate events.

    Instead, our convention centre is the second oldest in the country, has received the least amount of funding and exceeded capacity more than a decade ago, meaning we are missing out on upwards of $20 million in bookings per year.

    A new convention centre would allow for bigger conferences to take place in the National Capital while also increasing our capacity to host multiple events simultaneously during peak periods, stimulating far-reaching economic spin-off activity for local businesses.

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    Australia Forum / Fuskas / GMB
  • 4. Commit to More Community Sport & Recreation Facilities

    Canberra has the highest participation rate in the country but does not have the facilities to meet demand across most sporting codes. These major projects should be supported by a series of smaller infrastructure upgrades to ensure our community has the facilities it needs to thrive for years to come, including:

    • Upgrading Viking Park into a boutique suburban stadium with capacity for 10,000 people.
    • Guaranteeing Phillip Pool’s viability into the future or constructing an equivalent alternative.
    • Delivering on key commitments in the ACT Government’s Entertainment, Arts & Sports Infrastructure Plan and filling other community sporting infrastructure gaps.

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    Throsby Home of Football Design / ACT Government
  • 5. Build a National Multi-Use Arena in the City

    A centrally located multi-use arena can be purpose-built to support Canberra’s growing number of professional sporting teams and thriving live music scene while giving us the capacity to attract big touring acts and major sporting events to the National Capital.

    For the most efficient and cost-effective solution, the National Multi-Use Arena should be designed with a roofed southern bowl to accommodate smaller concerts for 7,000-12,000 people, expanding into stadium format for sporting and larger music events with up to 25,000 fans in attendance.

    The Arena should be walking distance from the Convention Centre in the city, allowing the venues to share back-of-house facilities, parking, staffing and even operators, forming a combined precinct that can be serviced by a new suite of hotels, restaurants and bars with substantial surge capacity for when major events come to town.

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    Populous / Christchurch City Council
  • 6. Revitalise Commonwealth Park

    Civic Pool’s iconic 10-metre diving board is part of Canberra’s history. It could be relocated to a new indoor-outdoor aquatic facility in Commonwealth Park with views to The Brindabellas.

    Stage 88 could also be redeveloped into a 10,000-person venue modelled on the Sidney Myer Music Bowl for mid-sized events.

    Combined with the Parkes Way works, the new National Multi-Use Arena and modernised sound laws, this revamped Commonwealth Park music bowl would give Civic the capacity to host major multi-day festivals.

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    Canberra Olympic Pool Circa 1960 / ACT Heritage Library / Ref: 008758
  • 7. Establish a National Tech Precinct & Expanded Innovation Hub

    With limited space and resources, the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN) makes an outsized contribution to our local entrepreneurial ecosystem. CBRIN’s operations should be expanded and integrated into an Innovation Hub of national significance, supported by federal funding sufficient to fully furnish all remaining levels of 1 Moore Street. The Hub would work closely with a new National Tech Precinct established to provide fast-moving companies with shared advanced tech manufacturing capabilities and on-hand professional services.

    These facilities can foster a culture of greater public-private collaboration in both the development of tech and the sharing of skills, as well as supporting a burgeoning innovation district sprawling across the City Centre from ANU’s campus in the west to UNSW’s new campus in the east.

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    Poplars Innovation Hub Concept / Open Principle Architects
  • 8. Support Regional Manufacturing

    Companies expanding beyond the ACT borders should find tangible benefit in pursuing options in the Canberra Region. Maximising cross-border regulatory consistency can ensure the R&D taking place in Canberra is supported by regional manufacturing capabilities, replacing ACT-NSW competition with genuine collaboration.

    All levels of government should cooperate to ensure our region prospers as a manufacturing engine capable of fully commercialising the innovations emerging from the city, which will deliver new jobs and economic opportunities to emerging regional industries.

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  • 9. Extend Light Rail to the Airport

    We are fortunate to have an expanding airport with huge future potential situated just eight kilometres from the City Centre that should be easily and quickly accessible via public transport. With the number of passengers using Canberra Airport expected to almost double in the next five years, now is the time to accelerate adding the airport to our light rail network.

    A city-to-the-airport line — built concurrently with the extension to Woden and preparing for the planned city-to-Belconnen leg — would service over 30,000 Canberrans working in Campbell, Russell, Duntroon and near the airport.

    Given the ACT's limited revenue base, alternative solutions should also be considered, which could include bus rapid transit (BRT) and smaller electric on-demand buses.

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    East Canberra Greenline Concept / Stewart Architecture / Fyshwick Business Association
  • 10. Upgrade the Canberra-to-Sydney Rail Line

    An almost 4.5-hour train ride from Sydney to Canberra is not conducive to our vision of the National Capital as a global city and does not support our region’s decarbonisation ambitions.

    Long-overdue upgrades should be undertaken to reduce travel time with a staged approach eventually unlocking a 1.5-hour trip from Canberra to Sydney.

    Faster trains enable and accelerate regional economic growth. These works will boost the prosperity of regional centres surrounding Canberra, like Yass and Goulburn, by increasing their felt proximity to the city.

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The Griffin Legacy / National Capital Authority