Page 244 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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West Belconnen Health Co-op

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (6.46): I rise briefly this evening to talk about the West Belconnen Health Co-op, as mentioned yesterday evening by Dr Bourke. As members may remember, I was part of the small steering committee that worked to establish the co-op. I know, Madam Speaker, you also attended some of those meetings in the early days when we worked together to establish the co-op. I applaud the work and success of that co-op, which has been achieved under the chairmanship of Michael Pilbrow and his fellow board members. They are holding their AGM this evening. I hope to get to some of that after the adjournment debate and to be able to congratulate the board in person and also welcome the new board. Again, I congratulate them on all their wonderful work.

Belconnen dog park

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (6.47): This evening I want to talk about one of my many experiences on the campaign trail, and that is my interactions with some of the dogs and their families who live in the community out in west Belconnen, what they mean to the homes that they live in, and the ACT government’s announcement to improve the Belconnen dog park facilities in Belconnen to allow for smaller dogs to roam freely without being intimidated by larger dogs.

Just by way of providing some context, my volunteers and I visited some 7,000-odd homes over the course of the election campaign, right throughout west Belconnen. Among the many interesting things that stood out to me and my team was the sheer number of families with dogs. They were everywhere.

Some of the more memorable dogs I came across were Deevo the whippet from Macgregor, Reg the sheepdog from Holt and Toby the terrier from Dunlop. I took my own dog, Elkie, out on the campaign trail a number of times and I can definitely guarantee that on a number of occasions Elkie was the real vote winner.

As those amongst us who are dog owners know all too well, owning a dog is a lot of fun. Dogs provide good company, lots of affection and unconditional love. Well, it is not really unconditional because, for a dog, food always comes before love.

Many studies show that owning a dog improves your health by encouraging you to get out and about and they are shown to help reduce stress levels. Madam Speaker, in your new role, if you do not have one already, perhaps you will become a dog owner in order to manage anxiety levels regarding the behaviour in this place.

In June this year the Chief Minister announced a $170,000 upgrade to the Belconnen dog park. This upgrade will create a new space for smaller dogs so that owners of small dogs can bring them to the Belconnen dog park and know that they will not be threatened by larger dogs. The upgrade also includes expanding the parking available for this popular dog park.

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