Page 4651 - Week 14 - Thursday, 24 November 2005

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Urban Services and the Minister for Planning, need to tell us how they are going to quickly restore–

Mr Corbell: That is not true. Prove it.

MR SMYTH: He has just admitted it, Mr Corbell. If you would open your ears and listen, instead of going off like a little parrot, Mr Hargreaves just said, “But there will be more soon, there will be more coming.” So there is less now. The problem for the community groups is that it is affecting their operation—and the problem with those opposite is that they do not wish to acknowledge that.

What we have got to do is continue to ensure that there is the environment that we want as a city, that we need as a community, to make sure that people have the facilities when they put themselves in their vehicles to assist others—that we make it as easy for them as possible. I call on the minister to look at it. Maybe he will not. That is his dilemma. But it has certainly been reported to me that the dearth of disabled parking and the dearth of other parking spots, particularly on Bunda Street, are making it very, very hard for voluntary organisations, particularly in the Griffin Centre, to continue to do their good work and provide support for the people of Canberra.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.28): I acknowledge the important contribution of volunteers to the Canberra community, and I, too, am disappointed that the government has tried to turn it into a federal government bashing exercise. I will speak a little bit more on that later.

Volunteers are exceptionally important for our community. We have such things as the highest participation rate, for example, in sport and recreation because of the thousands of volunteers who give hours of their time each week. And, if we tally up the amount of money spent, for example, coaching a side or something like that, we are probably talking thousands of dollars a year of those people’s own money. But they do it because they are passionate about it. They do it because they feel it is the right thing to do; they are putting something back into the community. I do not think we would have the thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of people involved in such activities as sport especially—junior sport particularly, and senior sport—were it not for the fantastic efforts of volunteers.

I will give a little snapshot here of the efforts of the parents of the Wests under-12s, who raised $85,000 to send two teams to New Zealand. The committee would have probably spent 20, 30, 40 hours a week each in terms of activities, and probably 40 other support people put in an enormous amount of time to raise that money. That enabled kids to go there virtually at no cost whatsoever. That is indicative; you can replicate that dozens, probably hundreds, of times throughout our community, not just in sport but in other groups too—the amount of effort put in by a lot of people throughout Canberra. With the arts, thousands of people ensure that so many young people appreciate what is involved in the plethora of arts activities in Canberra, giving us the vibrant scene we have.

I am delighted that Mr Smyth has raised a number of important issues as to how the government can assist volunteers more. It does not have to spend any money necessarily but just make their job a little bit easier by removing impediments to them. People put in hours of their time, for example, transporting elderly and disabled people to hospital

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