Page 2194 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 August 2022
In many instances where there have been failures of government, residents and other local and volunteer organisations have stepped up. Organisations such as the Leaf Collective are a great example of this. They promote the use of leaf towers in our community to help prevent leaves from entering and polluting our waterways. This is where locals take responsibility for sweeping up leaves in their own streets and neighbourhoods and then the leaves are collected in a sort of a bin and taken away for mulching.
I have seen some people in this place post on Instagram pictures of so-called beautiful scenes in Canberra where whole streets are covered in autumn leaves. While some people might see that as very beautiful, I see that as an enormous nutrient load waiting to enter our lakes and waterways. It should not be something that we are celebrating. Initiatives like the Leaf Collective, the Tuggeranong lake carers, the Tuggeranong Community Council and the Sea Scouts doing clean-ups around their lake demonstrate the character of Canberrans and how people are ready to step up and help their own community, help the environment, and do what they can to improve and celebrate biodiversity and preserve our beautiful bush capital.
The motion calls for the ACT government to investigate and implement options to structure new contracts and to train contractors to ensure that conservation areas are not mowed. I acknowledge that grassy ecosystems can significantly benefit by not being mown. There are people in our community who are particularly passionate about these environmental initiatives. They put a huge amount of effort into planting and regenerating areas in their own neighbourhoods, and we should support and celebrate and acknowledge that. But I do want to go back, briefly, to the question of mowing. Most Canberrans simply want to see the grass mowed on time.
Last year we had a La Niña event, and this did impact our mowing schedule. But I can tell you that, in the 10 or so years I have been in this place, mowing has been an issue every year. Mowing is an issue every year. For many of us it is one of the most frequent complaints we get from constituents. So I am looking forward to the budget announcement which has already been foreshadowed about funding for a rapid-mowing team. Even though we have been told, on my recollection, over the past 10 years that “we are doing everything we can”, it is something that we should see as a positive thing.
We simply want to see the grass mown on time, where we can. It is not a huge ask, but the government makes it seem like it is. It is a basic local municipal service. What I have seen happening here over 10 years or so is that the government has failed to adequately address and resource our mowing capabilities. When there is something like unprecedented rain—and I have a spreadsheet with all of the media articles which have listed unprecedented rain over the past 10 years—then they make an eleventh-hour budget announcement about how they are going to put extra money into the budget to do more mowing, even though they have starved the area of resources over time.
According to my constituents and the complaints that I get, long grass, overgrown grass, is an issue. It is about a fire hazard; it is about harbouring snakes. It is an issue of reducing visibility at roundabouts and intersections. It also looks terrible. It looks untidy. People like to feel pride in their own area. When your area is looked after and