What’s the ‘City Deal’ for Darwin?
City Deals are agreements between local, state/territory, and Commonwealth governments to plan and invest in individual cities or regions.
In May 2017 the Northern Territory Government and the Federal Government signed an agreement for a “City Deal” for Darwin. Even though Townsville got their deal after just a month and Launceston after 7 months, we’re now hearing we’ll be waiting at least a year. So why is there no sense of urgency for Darwin?
The Prime Minister Mr Turnbull has recently announced City Deals for Hobart and Geelong. You’ll find them, together with Western Sydney, Townsville and Launceston, at https://cities.dpmc.gov.au/city-deal
But you won’t find Darwin mentioned.
Which is really weird because Mr Turnbull talks a lot about northern development, Asian engagement, national security and border protection, but it seems he is not serious when it comes to nation building in the North, specifically the Northern capital of Australia.
Michael Gunner’s Territory Government has a visionary plan for the City of Darwin, and has committed $100 million in the 2017 Budget. See https://darwincitydeal.nt.gov.au/
The City Deal will see Darwin become a more attractive tropical tourist and cultural destination, with more jobs. Supporting skills and industry development, improving housing affordability and choice, and improving the liveability and attractiveness of Darwin’s city centre are all dependant on investment.
Redeveloping State Square, an underground carpark and there will be a greater presence for Charles Darwin University in the city.
The City of Darwin is very supportive, with Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis saying he wants to work with Government, NGOs, business owners and landlords to reinvigorate the city centre.
(The commercial landlords could start by working with businesses and not jacking their rents up!)
We can link cultural development with economic development. This will include recognition of Darwin’s role in The Second World War, the devastation of Cyclone Tracy and the rebuilding of Darwin, and our unique Indigenous and top end cultures.
Darwin is a vibrant multicultural city, a resilient city with a great future, but it needs plans and investment and that’s why we need the Turnbull Government to take our city seriously.
Darwin can be a R&D hub, a business, services and administrative centre. We have an international seaport and airport and we can be a regional tourist destination too. We’ll be exploring new ideas at the Tourism IdeasFest on 3rd March at Darwin International Airport. In particular ideas that will support the 90% of Territory Tourism businesses that are small businesses.
The vision for Darwin sees Charles Darwin University grow by providing key facilities for student living and learning as a centrepiece of the city. That’s going to be hard with the Turnbull Government’s cuts to Charles Darwin University, so it’s even more important that they sign a serious ‘City Deal’ with us.
Prime Minister Turnbull has recently appointed a new minister with responsibility for cities, Paul Fletcher, and I will be strongly urging him to progress the City Deal for Darwin when Parliament resumes. Same goes for Matt Canavan with so called ‘Northern Development’ and Marise Payne about Defence infrastructure working for locals.
In short we need more than words from the Prime Minister. We need action. Get on a plane and sign the City Deal. This is of critical importance for Darwin, Northern Australia and the Nation as a whole.