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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 3735 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

into how much water is required to keep sports turfs dense and healthy in Canberra's harsh climate. The research established two facts: Firstly, that grasses grown in Canberra require 60 to 65 per cent of net evaporation to be added as irrigation for the grasses to retain their density; and, secondly, that, if the amount of water supplied falls much below 50 per cent of net evaporation, then the grass simply dies, leaving a clumpy dangerous playing surface. The resultant system was titled Comtrol. The Government may be surprised to note that the research undertaken by the Technical Services Unit led to its recognition at that time as one of the world's leaders in sports irrigation and management of cool season turf. The project won a Gold Technology in Government Award and Mr Keith McIntyre won the Ed Hunter Award in the USA for urban irrigation excellence. Mr McIntyre is the first and only non-American to win the award.

Ms McRae: It is a reading from the Bible.

MR OSBORNE: You should be so lucky, Ms McRae.

Ms McRae: It might be shorter. We all have that letter, Mr Osborne.

MR OSBORNE: I am trying to give all the facts to Mr Stefaniak so he can give us a good answer. Given that Comtrol is already set at the lowest limit of 55 to 60 per cent of net evaporation, any further reduction will result in grass death in summer, which will in turn result in increased costs in repair and replacement. Minister, my question is this: Have you considered the degradation and safety effects that lowering the water levels will have on the playing surfaces, and how do these new costs compare with those associated with maintaining the present levels of watering and the potential costs of repairing and replacing damaged fields? Further, what costs will the Government face when addressing litigation for failing to provide the community with safe public facilities?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank Mr Osborne for the question. Just before I answer that question, I inform Ms Reilly that the figures for maintenance of Housing Trust properties were just a little under $12m last financial year and $14.9m this financial year.

Now, Mr Osborne, I come to your question. I have actually had a lengthy discussion with Mr Keith McIntyre. Indeed, he will be coming in to see me and we will have some further discussions. He certainly has raised a number of issues which you relate to and which I would like to talk to him about. Mr Osborne, in keeping with our Government's drive for efficiency, we have reviewed a number of things, including sportsground maintenance and management arrangements. After very careful discussions with CityScape and City Services, the Bureau of Sport, Recreation and Racing has decided to reduce watering on neighbourhood ovals and district playing fields by 30 per cent this financial year. It was not a decision taken lightly. It was looked at with other possible options which I will come to.

Ms McRae: It is raining, Mr Stefaniak.

MR STEFANIAK: It is raining, Ms McRae. Rain is a very significant factor. Mr Osborne, I am very well aware of all the things you raised. In fact, I am a witness for someone who was injured on an oval when Mr Berry was the Sport Minister back in 1993. Injuries occasionally happen. As a lawyer, I am very aware of all the factors that

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