To preserve and improve the social, cultural, economic and environmental well being of Inner South Canberra and the Inner South Canberra Community.

Lecture – Canberra’s Incipient Decline as a Living City and as a National Capital


By: Tony Powell AO

DATE: Thursday 25 May 2017

TIME: 12.30pm – 1.30pm

VENUE: Function Room, Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre, 180 London Circuit, CANBERRA CITY

ABOUT: Canberra has a unique place as one of the few planned Federal capitals around the world.

This IGPA Public Lecture addresses the question whether the aspiration at the time of Federation that Australia have a planned national capital that reflects the highest ideals of social comfort, city building, urban design and public administration has been realized. The event is jointly convened by Professorial Fellow Jon Stanhope AO and Adjunct Professor Dr Khalid Ahmed PSM.

Tony Powell AO is an authority on planning in Canberra. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Town and Country Planning from the University of Sydney.  Tony has had a varied and distinguished career as an engineer in the public and private sectors; as a planner in a local council, the State Planning Authority of NSW, in private practice; and as a senior public servant in the NSW and Federal governments. He was the Chairman and CEO of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission.

He has held numerous statutory positions including Chairman, National Capital Planning Committee; Commissioner, NSW Soil Conservation Service; and as a Member of the Parliament House Construction Authority, Murray Darling Basin Commission, Water Resources Council of NSW, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service Advisory Committee. He has also held appointments in national and international professional planning organizations, notably, Vice President, Royal Australian Planning Institute (NSW Division) and Member, Executive Board of the International New Towns Association, Paris.

As Commissioner of the National Capital Development Commission between 1974 and 1985, Tony has had a deep and enduring involvement in the development of Canberra as a city and as the nation’s capital. He was awarded an Officer in the Order of Australia in 1985, and is a Life Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia.

After retirement from professional practice in 2014, Tony has researched, written and lectured on the history and practice of urban and regional planning. He has also remained engaged with the planning issues in Canberra, and has made numerous contributions to parliamentary inquiries, public forums, and print and electronic media.

Tony considers that Federal capitals are always under threat from constituent State capitals, none more so than in the case of Canberra where, unlike Washington, for example, the city does not loom large in the national psyche.

In this IGPA Lecture, Tony will argue that the garden city environment, and the notion of Canberra being a planned city, are being destroyed. He suggests that a way has to be found to arouse the Canberra population to the fact that their needs, and the needs of their children and the needs of their parents who are retired, are in jeopardy.


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