Page 3169 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 August 2013

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Let me turn to some of the other areas of Territory and Municipal Services. When it comes to parks and the environment, I am very pleased that the budget provides $1.3 million to enhance the biodiversity of Canberra’s woodland parks and nature reserves. This is additional funding to restore the territory’s parks and reserves for their ecological values, as well as for the health and social benefit of Canberrans.

It is quite clear that in some ways we are in danger of loving our nature parks to death, with the frequent use of them. There are challenges that come with that, from overuse, from erosion, from the potential introduction of pest species. So these are all pieces of work that need to be done, and the budget has provided considerable resources for pest animal management, including rabbit control on nature reserves, improved support for park care groups and for management of invasive weeds, as well as for the development of specific operational plans for units of Canberra nature park.

The budget also provides for five new park ranger positions for the ACT over the next four financial years, and I think that this is a great outcome. The rangers have a big job to do. The community loves meeting them in the nature parks, and I think if we can lift their capacity, they can do a better job of caring for these very precious areas.

When it comes to Canberra’s urban treescape, the budget provides $1 million to help preserve Canberra’s well-respected urban treescape by ensuring that our urban trees are replaced as required. And this funding will help protect the value and amenity of our much-loved street trees by supporting planting and maintenance programs. This helps implement a clear recommendation from the Commissioner for Sustainability and Environment.

In city services, the government has an ongoing program of upgrades for local shops. Shopping centres in Evatt, Kambah, Rivett, Fisher, and Hughes will all be upgraded, with $360,000 allocated for design work.

There is provision for new drinking fountains, with $240,000 for the installation of 30 drinking fountains across Canberra, including at town centres, parks, sporting facilities and near schools. There are currently only just over 80 operational drinking fountains in our public places, which means residents have to purchase bottled water far too often. It is costly and it leads to waste, and I think the provision of drinking fountains is a real benefit for the community there.

$200,000 has been provided in the budget to undertake a safety audit of skate parks across Canberra, as well as for design and upgrade work at Kambah adventure playground and at Edison skate park at Woden town centre.

There are also other provisions in the budget for those basic services that really lift our community and provide some of the facilities people really enjoy, including money to replace barbecues at Yarralumla Bay, Lake Ginninderra district park, Umbagong district park, Yerrabi Pond district park, Bowen park and Lennox gardens; $1.7 million for design and feasibility studies for new walking and cycling infrastructure; money to improve irrigation at Black Mountain Peninsula, Bowen park and Telopea Park; and money for the installation of bollards and improved access at Emu Bank, which will build on the government’s investment in this popular precinct in recent years.

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