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MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, in the past month the Bureau of Sport, Recreation and Racing has become aware of a very significant infestation of scarab grubs on a number of sportsgrounds, including some heavily used grounds. Kambah 1 and 2, the Phillip District Oval, the Phillip Athletics Oval, the Phillip Oval and even Kippax have been affected by these grubs. Whilst some of the birds, including ibis and magpies, love to eat them, that does not particularly help, because of the nature of this particular grub, which damages the grass by eating away the roots, killing the grass and making the surface poor in quality. The problem has become very serious this year and maintenance staff are doing all they can to combat it.
Attempts to eradicate these grubs were made last summer, but the measures taken were not effective. CSIRO advice has been sought, as have a number of other expert opinions, on using materials that can actually kill these grubs. I am advised that there is little that can be done during winter, as reseeding is not very effective in Canberra's cold climate, especially as the grounds are in constant use. Technical staff in the Government Service are currently developing a comprehensive control program to be implemented next December to February, when the grubs are the most vulnerable to chemical control and, of course, the grounds are likely to regenerate very quickly. It is an ideal time to sow grass.
The effect of the scarabs is to kill off large areas of grass, and as soon as the grounds are used the dead grass in the sand just disintegrates. What the department is currently doing, along with Urban Services, is spreading soil so that the playing fields are in fact level and games can continue during the winter months. I would not underestimate the seriousness of the problem. A number of ovals are affected, and significant work will have to be done both during the winter season and during summer, when hopefully the grubs will all be eradicated, to overcome this quite serious problem.
ACTEW - Corporatisation
MR WOOD: I direct a question to Mr De Domenico in his capacity as Minister for Business, Employment and Tourism. Can Mr De Domenico confirm the Chief Minister's public statement on 15 April that, as a result of the adoption of the Hilmer report by COAG, electricity prices in the ACT will rise?
MR DE DOMENICO: The question of price rises for electricity is something that the Government is yet to consider. Once the Government considers any such thing, of course the Assembly will be the first people to know.