As Australia’s National Capital, Canberra has a unique purpose, setting, character and symbolism, and it’s important the National Capital Authority (NCA) continues to protect this heritage while acknowledging and planning for the future of a modern and vibrant Canberra.
30 June, 2019 marks the first 12 months that the Authority (the Board) has been the accountable authority for the organisation. I am pleased to report that in this period the NCA has:
Met agreed performance measures including meeting the target of processing works approvals within 15 days for 75% of compliant applications, receiving all works applications through our electronic portal system;
Achieved outstanding- rates of visitor satisfaction (99%) at the National Capital Exhibition and other attractions run by the NCA;
Finalised our capital works program and responded to reported maintenance issues within agreed timeframes over 90% of the time;
Operated within agreed budget parameters and within government policies and procedures with no major safety issues recorded in relation to staff or visitors; and
Increased our efforts to be more customer focussed in the way we facilitate and organise events and celebrations and significantly progressed plans and activities to activate places and spaces on our land and Lake Burley Griffin for the benefit of the local community and visitors.
We were very pleased to welcome the appointment of the Hon Nola Marino MP becoming the Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories
in May 2019. Assistant Minister Marino has a real passion for Canberra and its landscapes and heritage. She has been on site with NCA staff discussing major projects and we look forward to working with her on planning and estate matters over the next three years.
The Minister has championed the work we are doing in planning for the next 100 years of trees and the development of the NCA’s Tree Management Policy that will set out how we will deal with sustainability issues and mitigate the impact of climate change on our precious and historic treescape.
The NCA has focussed its ongoing program of maintenance and capital works to improve and enhance existing assets on National Land. As announced in 2017-18 the NCA received an injection of $17.1m over the following four years to continue to maintain and revitalise the National Capital Estate for the community. Additional funding has been invested in the maintenance of Scrivener Dam and open space areas, including conservation of the ecological values in Stirling Park. We work closely with local community experts and volunteers to achieve these joint outcomes. Work this year has also included the upgrading of 3.3km of footpaths within the Parliamentary Zone to specifically improve visitor safety during the Enlighten Festival.
With the total of our built and natural assets valued at over $850m, NCA managed assets fall into a range of age and asset condition with many now approaching or over 60 years of age. This year we paid special attention to managing risks associated with our ageing infrastructure base and actively planned for its future use including the revitalisation of the National Carillon, Aspen Island and Scrivener Dam. The NCA’s Strategic Financial Plan that was finalised in 2018-19 sets out our proposed rolling program to prioritise and address asset renewal in a safe, planned, sustainable and strategic way.
Under this program, the NCA received $3.3m in the 2019-20 Budget to prepare a detailed business case to explore options to upgrade Commonwealth Avenue Bridge through strengthening, widening and safety barrier replacement work.
The NCA updated the National Capital Plan (Amendment 91) to establish future planning controls for development and urban renewal along the gateway corridor into the city centre, Northbourne Avenue and Federal Highway, to enable more people to live and work close to sustainable transport options, services and infrastructure.
The NCA worked closely and collaboratively with the ACT Government to get a strong outcome for the community from Light Rail Stage 1, particularly in relation to the urban design quality and presentation of stations along Federal Highway and Northbourne Avenue. The NCA supports improving public transport options in the city and effectively played its role as one of the regulators and approval authorities along with environmental, engineering and safety authorities.
The NCA appeared before the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories (JSCNCET) on several occasions during the year as the Committee inquired into the Commonwealth approval process and impact of Stage 2 of the Light Rail project.
The JSCNET report was published in October 2018 and made six recommendations related to: a two- stage approval process, specific design considerations for any new light rail bridge, wire-free running from Commonwealth to Adelaide avenues (to Kent Street), heritage impacts, replanting of historic Weston tree plantings, and requiring the NCA to refer any works approval application to the JSCNCET prior to tabling in Parliament. The Australian Government’s response to the JSCNCET Inquiry was published in March 2019, agreeing or agreeing in principle to all recommendations. The NCA stands ready to assess an application for this next stage once the ACT Government has finalised the route and resolved technical, environmental and design issues.
I would like to thank the hardworking and dedicated staff at the NCA for their outstanding efforts this year. I must also thank my fellow Board Members Glenn Keys AO, Dennis Richardson AC, Sally Barnes with a special mention to Chris Faulks, who after five years of being on the board has now stepped down. The diligence and commitment of the board has been instrumental to our successful transition to becoming the NCA's accountable authority. It was a great privilege and honour for me to be reappointed as the NCA Chair for another three years in March 2019. I look forward to working with the team over the next three years.