Page 1335 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005

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kept the ovals nice and green and lush and ask the people of the ACT to tighten their belts in respect of the usage of water on their own gardens. A decision was taken, in some cases, to scale down the water applied to these ovals—and, in some cases, taps were completely turned off.

Once the drought is broken we will start to look at each of the ovals. We have already started looking at each one to see whether or not they can be rejuvenated rather quickly. If they can, we will go down that track, but that will not be able to happen to some of them without some significant injection of funding and innovations. Those innovations mean the types of reseeding that have to go on. Of course we will put soil back onto the ovals. Remember that most of these ovals are compacted pretty badly—you could lose a truck in the holes in them! That will need to be remedied.

It is also true to say that there has been a lot of work done by CSIRO and within our own horticultural services to come up with strains of grass which are considerably more drought resistant than the ones we have now. So we will need to be looking at those reseeding programs to see just how the ovals can be replenished.

Let me say quite directly, in answer to Mr Stefaniak’s question, that it would be quite inappropriate of this government to merely go and put something back which is entirely dead if the community demographic does not call for it. If the community demographic has gone from predominantly school-aged children to considerably older ones, it may very well be that people want to maintain the urban open space, but not necessarily in the nature of a school-type oval. Just to put the little rumour mongers in their places, Mr Corbell in fact, prior to the 2001 election, committed an incoming Stanhope government to the maintenance of urban open space.

Let me reiterate the undertaking from my colleague Mr Corbell. He said, if I remember correctly, that there shall be no reduction in urban open space unless the community has called for it—unless the community is saying it really wants it. Of course I reiterate that commitment but, if we have a suburb which is predominantly occupied by people who do not need a school-type oval—they may want it returned to some other form of urban open space—it would be a deaf Liberal-style government that would not listen to them.

This government actually moves forward in the company of the community, not in spite of them. We do not herd the community; we go with them and we respond to them. We put ideas before them and those ideas are embraced or picked up by the community; they are not rammed down their throats.

Further, our activities in rejuvenating the grass will be through horticultural expertise, not through a bucket of green paint. I will undertake to the Canberra community right now that we will not paint one blade of grass green. We will in fact rejuvenate the urban open space towards the relevant recreation of the people who live around it.

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, what will you do with the land if you are not satisfied that a community needs its oval—apart from not painting it green?

MR HARGREAVES: I say this once again because I understand that, with advancing years, Mr Stefaniak is getting a touch hard of hearing. We will maintain the levels of

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