Top of the Class

The polls are in and Canberra has come in at the top.  The national capital is officially Australia’s most liveable city. 

The latest Auspoll ‘My City’ survey measures the liveability of the ten major Australian cities, asking residents to rank their town based on a range of attributes. 

The overwhelming majority of Canberrans surveyed agreed that our city is beautiful and unpolluted, a safe place to live and has a great range of fun things to do outdoors.  We have good schools, healthcare and employment opportunities, minimal traffic congestion, a cohesive yet diverse community and a balance of housing types. 

The response is not surprising - Canberra is an amazing place to live and one of Australia’s best kept secrets.  It’s a city where politicians and the public mingle at farmers’ markets, where the world class galleries are free, and the coffee is good.  We’re two hours from the waves or the ski slopes and under half an hour to almost anywhere and everything in the city.  As a Canberran it’s hard not to brag about our town.

The survey sounds some warning bells too.  While we can boast a high average income compared with the rest of the country Canberra is not an affordable place to live - with a median house price of more than $580,000.  Our civic centre has too many vacant shop fronts and tired and empty public places.  And for some reason, we have a fear of ‘tall buildings’ or of what might be considered a real city skyline.

Now is not the time to rest on our laurels.  Civic should be revitalised with short-term tenancies for local boutique businesses - akin to Renew Newcastle.  A range of affordable housing options across the city must be available with good access to public transport if we are to keep our young people and meet the needs of our older population.  We need to get comfortable with a denser civic and town centres - we simply cannot spread outwards indefinitely.

Let’s stand together to ensure Canberra meets its full potential as the vibrant, sophisticated and diverse world-class destination it was designed to be - and stays at the top of the class.

Catherine Carter is ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia.