Page 177 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 9 February 2022
the government had to address this demand in the future. The minister responded that the government strategy was to encourage community groups to “utilise existing community facilities”. In other words, those opposite had no plan for either the present or the future.
Later that same year, in budget estimates hearings, the government admitted that it was receiving increasing requests for facilities that could not be met. In November 2017, in response to a question that I had put on the notice paper, the minister confirmed that community groups were being denied requests for events and meeting spaces, owing to unavailability. Still, nothing was done.
Ms Orr’s motion twice mentions Gungahlin in the context of its population growth and lack of community facilities. I note here that, in his inaugural address to the Assembly in 2016, my colleague Mr Milligan raised these same issues. On that occasion he stated that Gungahlin needed better local amenities, including improved social amenities. He specifically mentioned a town or district hall and a focus on facilities for the growing youth population. In the five-plus years since, he has been a tireless advocate for these kinds of facilities in his electorate of Yerrabi.
Similarly, my colleagues Mrs Jones and Mr Hanson have been labouring to secure a community centre for the thousands of residents who have been moving into Molonglo Valley over the last nine years. True to form, this government’s response has been much foot-dragging, and there is still no community centre.
Likewise, I note that, in February 2019, Ms Orr moved a motion calling on the ACT government to explore the feasibility of establishing a dedicated community centre in the Gungahlin town centre. Frustrated by endless exploring and no action, Mr Milligan successfully amended that motion to, instead, call on the government to commit to a dedicated community centre in Gungahlin. In doing so, he summed up the situation in this way:
Every single resident in the outer north knows about the pain associated with this government’s poor planning. They build houses first and then try to retrofit infrastructure.
He also said:
We do not need a scoping exercise to understand that there is a lack of meeting rooms and spaces, halls and venues for local community groups, let alone a range of other community assets.
Six months later Ms Orr was named as the new minister with responsibility for community services and facilities, making her responsible for some of the things that she had been asking for, and is again asking for in this motion. Considering her expressed concerns, we could have seen significant improvements in this space over her 13-month tenure. Instead, today’s motion calls on all of us to acknowledge that demand for community facilities in the ACT continues to outstrip supply, resulting in difficulty for community organisations in securing access to suitable facilities.