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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 1 Hansard (11 February) . .

Page.. 183..


services that residents of Canberra expect to be maintained, replaced and renewed. I wanted to get "renewed" in there because it seems to be the word of the month.

With rates increasing, residents expect the level of services they receive to at least be maintained and not be going backwards. Constituents have also advised that the grass is frequently overgrown in playgrounds. They have said to me that it is higher than their children's heads in some cases. I am not sure if that is perhaps exaggerating, but that is what they have said. Minister Rattenbury advises that public open spaces are mown every four weeks during the peak growing season. Given the hot sunny days and afternoon showers we had over summer, four weeks may not be nearly enough. Parents are concerned in some areas about snakes when the grass remains unmown in local parks and playgrounds.

I would like to thank the minister and his directorate for the ongoing work they do on our local parks and playgrounds. There is a lot of equipment to maintain and fix. But from what I hear from my constituents, they feel it is a matter of mistaken priorities for the government. One of my constituents may well be correct when he suggested that funding and resources that should be expended in local communities are being redirected into light rail and other pet projects of this government. I commend Mrs Jones for bringing forward this motion today.

MRS JONES (Molonglo) (4.08): In conclusion, I have read the amendment and I have some concerns with it, but I will get to that in a minute. Small parks matter just as much as big parks. People buy houses near small parks for the very purpose of visiting small parks. I understand that there is a hierarchy of park sizes, but I hope that does not translate in the minister's mind to a hierarchy of parks' importance.

Imagine a mother of a toddler, who has just had a newborn baby, whose partner or husband takes the car to work, and who has a very small park a block away from their house. That park may be the saving grace for that mother's mental health in the months after having had a baby, even though it is a very small park, because it is a destination that she is able to walk to. After giving birth, women do not have the same physical capacity as women do when they are at their fittest, and it is very important that we do not accidentally fall into a trap of asserting that because a park is small it does not have the same value as a big park.

When I made appeals in this place for parks to be taken more seriously, I did not feel that I was being very seriously listened to. Nobody is suggesting that children's parks in this town are not safely maintained. I have never suggested that, and I would not suggest that. I find it disingenuous that the minister comes in here on a regular basis asserting that my complaint is that parks are not being kept safely. That is not my intention; it is not my view. What I am suggesting is that I think it is surprising that a park, a local amenity, could be slated for closure, and a decision made, without the minister even being told.

I suggest that even though the minister does not have to micromanage the department, when significant decisions like that are made—and they are significant because they impact heavily on somebody's daily life in the community—he should be informed and he should have significant policies in order to make sure that he is informed when such decisions are made.


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