Page 4114 - Week 13 - Thursday, 31 October 2013

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The playground was inspired by the arboretum’s competition-winning design of 100 forests of rare and endangered trees from around the world. It does challenge the conventional idea of a play environment as it features giant acorn cubby houses waving in the sky and enormous banksia cones nestled on the forest floor. The playground does offer an alternative experience at the arboretum which does cater for our younger visitors.

The opening of the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion has also given us a new and unique venue to host events and provides an alternative to the larger village centre as a more intimate event space, catering for smaller events. While serving primarily as an event space, the pavilion is one of the standout features of the arboretum. The eastern terrace captures a panorama of Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra city and the mountains beyond. The views continue from inside the venue, with customised doors on both the north and south terrace that open to give uninterrupted views of the panorama and of the forest below.

Both the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion and the playground have helped support the ongoing success of the arboretum in the 11 months since it has been open.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mrs Jones.

MRS JONES: Minister, given the success of the new playground at the arboretum, is there a plan to complete the fence around this new facility to allow those who are caring for children with high needs to be cared for appropriately? Currently there are two openings in the fence with no closing gates at all.

MS GALLAGHER: We are, of course, taking feedback from people who are using the playground. There were some changes made fairly quickly to have a meeting post put in when, due to the overwhelming success, no-one could find their children once they entered the playground. We have looked at the issue of fencing. We have not taken any decisions to change it at the moment. Part of the issue is whether or not you lock it up and close it when the visitors’ centre closes, because that closes at 4 o’clock, whereas in daylight saving the arboretum and the playground do not close until 8.30. So there are some issues there. I have not had any concerns about children escaping. I have my own issues with children in the playground at the arboretum but I have not had any specific complaints or requests that I can recall. But I would happily follow it up if you have one.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Chief Minister, what is the government doing to ensure that we are responding to feedback from visitors and strengthening visitor experience to make sure the success of the National Arboretum continues to grow?

MS GALLAGHER: I think we are very much open to feedback from people who are visiting the arboretum. It is within our first 12 months of operations, and we had no idea how successful the arboretum would be or how many people would visit there and, indeed, through the different seasons, the changes that would have on visitor

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