Page 438 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 13 February 2013

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I would also like to make special note of the transport strategy that ACTION put in place for the opening event. They operated free shuttle buses for the opening day, and, in combination with there being no public parking at the arboretum that day, we saw a large number of people—somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000—use the free shuttle service. Pick-ups were from five locations around town, and indications from customers were that they were exceedingly pleased with the service that was provided. It is always nice, of course, to hear from people who perhaps have not used the bus for a long time. Some of the anecdotal feedback from people was, “Oh, these buses are actually really good,” so maybe it will flow through into some greater use of the ACTION service generally. This model is something to consider for other major events around town in the future, and that is a topic we will come back to later in the day with Mr Doszpot’s motion.

Finally, I take this opportunity to thank the many TAMS staff who worked on this project, especially in recent months as the deadline approached. I know that there was a lot of pressure on a whole range of people in the last little period before the opening, but I think the opening came together very well, and it is a great credit to the many staff who put in hours above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that it was all right on the night, so to speak.

I certainly look forward to watching the trees continue to grow with the evolution of the arboretum and the changing colours of the season. I would like to thank Mr Gentleman for bringing this topic on for discussion today. I think it has been the right time to reflect on the arboretum, and I look forward to supporting the motion.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Health and Minister for Higher Education) (10.35): I too thank Mr Gentleman for bringing forward this motion today, at a very important stage of the arboretum’s development. There is no doubt that the arboretum is a community asset that will bring much pleasure to many in our community over many decades to come. It is a place of enjoyment, recreation, research and tourism, for families, visitors and business.

The range of activities on offer there will appeal to a wide audience—cyclists, walkers, children, nature lovers and those who simply want to enjoy a coffee, with the best view in Canberra. It will be a place where celebrations are held, unions are forged, vows are taken and business ventures begin. I have no doubt it will feature prominently in the lives of many Canberrans over the coming decades and it will grow into the city’s most spectacular and popular attraction. The many thousands of people who have already attended and who enjoyed the recent open day are testament to the widespread community support for the arboretum.

The arboretum will create jobs and provide an economic boost to the territory as the arboretum matures and becomes a tourist attraction in its own right. It will generate revenue through the activities and events held at the venue and will hopefully, over time, be revenue neutral. The money spent on the arboretum is just a fraction of the money expended each year on delivering core services to the community.

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