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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3193 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

local neighbourhood ovals. This places the ACT holding as one of the largest portfolios of such facilities under a single authority in Australia.

Our sportsgrounds are an integral part of the city's infrastructure, providing convenient access for all residents to quality open space and contributing significantly to our having Australia's highest rate of physical activity. The ACT government, in recognising this level of importance, has allocated an appropriate level of budget funding towards maintaining these grounds in a safe and sustainable condition.

In our harsh climate, water is a major component in sustaining quality turf, and over the last decade the government has taken a number of significant initiatives to manage water usage more effectively. Mr Stefaniak has alluded to the installation of Comtrol, a computer-based irrigation management system that utilises world-leading technology to deliver optimal water usage; the introduction of effluent recycling for irrigation; reductions in non-essential irrigation systems; and the use of low-volume plumbing fittings in sportsground amenities buildings. All of these initiatives are underpinned by continual investigation of other methods of reducing water usage.

Regrettably, the extended drought conditions in eastern Australia have led to the introduction of water restrictions in the ACT. From the inception of these restrictions, the government's view has been that we must meet the same targets that we are asking the community to meet. Mr Stefaniak has said we could get the community to cooperate and, in my interpretation, the community could make a somewhat greater sacrifice than the government does.

The government doesn't accept that view, Mr Stefaniak. I can understand where it comes from, but I think that the government needs to show leadership. There are many people in Canberra, most Canberrans indeed, who have put enormous effort and money into their gardens, who are very proud of those gardens and who are protective of them. I think the arguments that you've used here for looking after our sports fields could well apply to people's home gardens. I think this is really the key to the question.

The government has to show that it's prepared to be as tough on itself as it is on the community. In order to get the community to cooperate with 40 per cent reductions, which are pretty steep, the government has to lead the way. I repeat that I don't believe that we can ask more of your local gardener than we ask of ourselves. We have to show leadership, and we must demonstrate to the community that we take the issue of reduction very seriously.

Under the current level 2 restrictions, which have been in place since February, Canberra Urban Parks and Places has reduced its overall water usage by 25 per cent, which is the savings target for level 2 restrictions. So we've done it at that level. We really do need to do it at the next level.

We're now facing a situation where level 3 water restrictions may have to be implemented. If this situation eventuates, then the government will take the necessary steps to achieve the level 3 target, that is, 40 per cent reduction in water usage across its areas of responsibility, including parks and playing fields.

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