Australia’s National Capital, Canberra, belongs to all of us.

It is more than just a city. It is our meeting place, the centre of our democracy. It is where our stories and history are shared through our national institutions, it is a representation of our values and aspirations. It is an expression of who we are as a nation.

Despite this, public discussion around our capital city is often critical. We don’t see the national pride in and affection for Canberra that would be desirable for our nation’s capital. It is acceptable, or even politically advantageous, for public figures to criticise Canberra in a way it is not for any other city.

This is not only disheartening for those of us who know and love this city and all it has to offer, but it impacts the policy decisions made about investment into our nation’s capital.

When Canberra is dismissed in the way that has become commonplace, it discourages both domestic and international visitors from coming here.

It is beyond time to change this narrative, to shine a light on, and build upon all our capital has to offer. It is also time to ensure that Canberra is equipped to meet the expectations and needs of a city designed to provide for and reflect who we are as Australians.

This inquiry sought to examine ways in which this can be supported, in particular by the Federal Government.

This inquiry received 48 submissions and heard from a range of stakeholders through nine public hearings about their visions for the nation’s capital and the challenges it faces.

We heard from the heads of the National Institutions located in Canberra, from business, tourism, transport, sporting, community, education, and environment groups. I sincerely thank everyone who contributed this wealth of ideas and information to our inquiry, and for your commitment to the national capital.

The Committee has made twenty-one recommendations about how the Federal Government can foster and promote the significance of the national capital, from nation building infrastructure projects to supporting stronger collaboration between our national institutions, and improved accessibility, particularly for those living in rural, regional and remote Australia.

I would like to thank my fellow committee members who participated in this inquiry process, particularly the Deputy Chair Ms Nola Marino for her support and commitment to the subject matter.

I would also like to sincerely thank Ms Fran Denny, Secretary, and the secretariat for their dedicated and skilful work on this inquiry and producing a report that I am incredibly proud of.

Canberra is more than just a city. It is a symbol of who we are as Australians. It is important that this significant role is recognised, fostered, and celebrated. I commend our report to the Government as a roadmap towards this.

Ms Alicia Payne MPChair