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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3188..


Leave of absence

Motion (by Mrs Dunne ) agreed to:

That leave of absence on 28 August 2003 be given to Mr Stefaniak.

Canberra sporting fields

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received a letter from Mr Stefaniak proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The need to properly maintain Canberra sporting fields.

MR STEFANIAK (3.50): I think Canberrans are rightly proud of our excellent sporting fields. They are, in many ways, the envy of the nation. They are one of the flagships of what people expect of the ACT. Our sporting fields represent a significant factor in our very high participation rate in sport and recreational pursuits, especially as many of these fields are used by juniors, in particular.

We have consistently had the highest participation rate of junior players in the country, and I believe that is something our community values. That is most important now, in light of reports of increased obesity in children. People are living a very different lifestyle from that of a generation ago. It is now a much more sedentary lifestyle, so sporting fields are very much a community asset.

I was concerned to see back in 1993 that the government, as an economy measure which was followed by a 2 per cent cut across the board, made 27 ovals-mainly ovals near primary schools but some near high schools-low maintenance. During the terms of the last two governments, about 14 of those ovals were brought back to full maintenance. Five written submissions were received as a result of public consultation on the draft variation, four of which expressed support, while three of those also raised other issues. Issues raised included, among other things, matters concerning precinct boundaries, height, accessibility and parking.

I can appreciate the problems the minister is going through now, with stage 3 water restrictions about to come into force and the varying and competing claims as to how our limited supply of water should best be used. I suggest that one of the last things Canberrans would want to see is their ovals needlessly sacrificed. I think people would be far more prepared to have restrictions in other areas-rather than going down the path of seeing our ovals destroyed. The people of Tamworth had a similar thing happen to them last summer. They opted to save the ovals in that city in inland New South Wales. Five written submissions were received as a result of public consultation on the draft variation, four of which expressed support, while three of those also raised other issues. Issues raised included, among other things, matters concerning precinct boundaries, height, accessibility and parking.

A lot of the use of our ovals is by juniors. In the winter, we see about 10,000 boys and girls playing soccer and about another 10,000 playing the other three football codes of rugby, rugby league and Australian rules. We see OzTag, touch, netball, cricket and


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