Transcript of Interview: 2CC Drive with Paul Marcus



05 June 2014

Marcus Paul: Now after four o'clock today, I'm going to catch up with Jamie Briggs, who's the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development. This comes after Zed Seselja's quest—well he got more of that out in the public this week. Zed, of course, is looking to expand Tuggeranong. It's become a step closer too, as the National Capital Authority is now looking at potential changes to the National Capital Plan, Canberra's key planning document. So, we will have a chat to Jamie Briggs, the minister, about that.

Now, let's talk Tuggeranong. We know that the area down there is struggling just a little bit; the town centre—much like Woden—is a little worse for wear and has been for a little while. So there needs to be something done, certainly a boost to the economies. It's good that the DSS is remaining in Tuggeranong, which is great news, but we understand the expansion of the area is now a step closer. Zed Seselja, who we spoke to yesterday here on Canberra Live, is certainly one who's been pushing that barrow, and he is now looking at potential changes to the National Capital Plan, which of course is our key planning document.

So, Jamie Briggs is the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development. Now, he asked the NCA—the Capital Authority—yesterday for a brief on the process needed to change the plan, and I'm happy to say he joins me this afternoon. Good afternoon, Jamie.

Jamie Briggs: Good afternoon.

Marcus Paul: I appreciate your time. Now, Senator Seselja is very keen to have this looked at; do you share those concerns with the ACT Senator?

Jamie Briggs: Well, I'm not sure they're so much concerns from the Senator, but he has certainly got a passion for this issue and he's been raising it with me regularly. He's a very good man, Zed, as you would know, and he's got a real passion for Canberra and Canberra's growth. He has a strong view that there is opportunities for additional growth in Canberra…

Marcus Paul: Yeah, when I say concerns, I guess, I'm more talking about the fact that maybe the economy down there's been a little slow of late, and we certainly need to stimulate it, and there are discussions about moving boundaries, which would then mean that more housing could be developed in certain areas of Tuggeranong, etcetera. That's, I think, what the concern is. It's more about stimulating the economy.

Jamie Briggs: Yes, indeed. And look, I think he's got some very worthwhile thoughts, and what I've asked Malcolm Snow, the CEO of the National Capital Authority to do, is to come back to me with the advice on what the process is for amending the National Capital Plan. We, of course, as the Federal Government, and as the responsible minister for territories, don't make decisions on development.

Marcus Paul: Of course.

Jamie Briggs: That will be a matter for the ACT Government. But there is an impediment in looking at this, and Zed's identified it. And if there is a simple way, and if it's a reasonable thing to do, then we're very happy to look at it. We're all for growth and you've seen in the Budget, the Budget's about growing the economy more strongly into the future, and of course, Canberra continues to grow strongly. People are often critical of Canberra, a lot my colleagues in fact are critical of Canberra, and I think it's unfair. And as a former resident, can I say, Canberra continues to go from strength to strength, its growing rapidly, and I think what Zed's making is a very good point that Tuggeranong originally was intended to have this development and there seems to be some impediments to it, and if one of those impediments…

Marcus Paul: A river, for a start. [Laughs]

Jamie Briggs: Well, indeed, the river's a nice place to live around and people are attracted to living around rivers in many places across our country. So I think it is a beautiful part of Canberra, I must say. It's very picturesque. I think it's not unreasonable for us to have a look at firstly the process—we haven't made any decisions on whether we're going to move forward with it or not, and I notice the ACT Government slightly misconstrued it this morning in the Canberra Times, and I would say to them: they shouldn't yet panic. If there is a decision by the Federal Government to go further with this, of course they'll be consulted. I have quite a bit of respect for Katy Gallagher, she comes from a different side of politics obviously, but this I don't see as a political issue, this is an issue which is, I think, in the interest of all Canberrans, and I certainly think that's where Zed's coming from.

Marcus Paul: Look absolutely. As you would know being a Federal Parliamentarian, that the northern corridor of the ACT has seen some great expansion over the last couple of years, in particular around the Gungahlin precinct, and with new developments, new housing estates including Crace, Franklin, all of those—and we are talking about a light rail corridor going through there down the track. But I guess, to some extent, and I tend to agree with Zed Seselja on this, the issue or the fact that maybe some of the southern areas of the ACT now need to also be looked at, and that's something that I've been following through with.

Jamie Briggs: Well, I think that's worthwhile, and that's why we're making…we're looking at this as a potential thing for the Australian Government to do to amend the plan. But we're not at that stage yet, we're getting that advice, and I intend, when I've got that advice, to have a further discussion with Zed, and obviously if we're going to move forward we'll of course engage with the ACT Government and also the population of course. There'll be a whole process which will need to take place.

Marcus Paul: Absolutely. Well, I'm glad the discussion has started already Jamie, because I think it'll be a good move for the ACT and certainly go a fair way to stimulating our economy and hopefully, as well, maybe also once it all happens, provide some other areas for Canberrans to live that might provide a bit more affordable housing. Because I think that's another problem that we have, we do need to open up some areas around the territory, maybe that are a little further away from civic- and the city itself, to provide a little bit more of an opportunity for those who want to enter into the market, because as you may know, it's pretty expensive here.

Jamie Briggs: Absolutely. And that is obviously one of the issues Zed is passionate about as well; ensuring people have got access to, particularly first home buyers, to a property market which is affordable.

Marcus Paul: Yeah.

Jamie Briggs: And one that ensures that young Canberrans have got an opportunity to stay and develop the region even stronger and continue to support the almighty Brumbies.

Marcus Paul: Alright Jamie, I appreciate your time this afternoon, thank you so much. Let's talk again on the issue.

Jamie Briggs: Great. Great to talk to you.

Marcus Paul: Okay. Jamie Briggs there, the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development.