October 30, 2013 – 10:54PM
CHIEF ASSEMBLY REPORTER FOR THE CANBERRA TIMES.
Aerial shot of City Hill. Photo: Graham Tidy
A site next to City Hill is a better site for the proposed Australia Forum convention centre than the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore, according to ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr.
Mr Barr was suspended from the ACT Assembly for three sitting hours on Wednesday for interjecting during a debate on the proposed convention centre.
He said building the convention centre on land used as a car park next to City Hill would provide conference attendees with spectacular views of Commonwealth Park and the lake.
Andrew Barr … booted from the Assembly. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
”It’s a prestigious position relative to the City Hill itself and the Parliamentary Triangle,” he said. ”And it would be fair to say it’s one of the best addresses in Canberra.”
Mr Barr said the site had been agreed on at a two-day workshop involving organisations and individuals interested in the project.
A West Basin lakeside site had been previously favoured by many supporters of the project. But Mr Barr said it had been agreed this would isolate the centre from Civic.
The ACT Government could donate the City Hill land for the project.
”It’s a location that also allows for other projects to occur: the West Basin foreshore, boardwalk and an urban beach,” Mr Barr said.
”A new swimming pool in West Basin will free up the [current] swimming pool for the CBD stadium.”
Proponents want the Australia Forum to be capable of hosting major international conferences, including meetings of world leaders.
It is envisaged it would have two main levels with entrances on Vernon Circle and London Circuit. Mr Barr said there would be room for two large dividable halls with a combined floor space of 16,000 square metres, a 3000-seat plenary area, a ”centre for dialogue” and retail space.
”It fits, it works, it’s the best space,” Mr Barr said.
Liberal economic development spokesman Brendan Smyth on Wednesday moved a resolution that called on the government to establish a trust to prepare an investment-ready plan for the centre.
Mr Barr was suspended for interjecting during the debate on the resolution. Greens minister Shane Rattenbury voted with the Liberal opposition to suspend Mr Barr.
Labor and the Liberals each have eight members in the 17-member Assembly, with Mr Rattenbury holding the balance of power.
Because of Mr Barr’s suspension, the Assembly was deadlocked when a vote was taken on the convention centre issue. Without a majority, the motion was declared lost.
Mr Barr will not be allowed back into the Assembly chamber until mid Thursday morning.
The Canberra Times