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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 11 February 2015) . . Page.. 173 ..

playground. There was no evaluation carried out as to what the impact of removing this playground would be on kids and families, and it was a decision made in a vacuum of community input. Residents deserve better. Residents pay their rates and taxes in exchange for the maintenance and upkeep of their community, which of course includes their playgrounds—areas they have invested in sometimes because such facilities are available. They do not expect the government to take their money and close down basic community parks and the like thinking that no-one will notice.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Justice, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform) (3.35): I am very happy to discuss this matter today. I thank Mrs Jones for bringing the discussion forward. There are two elements to the matter. One is the broader playground strategy. The second is the rather regrettable incident that took place around the Rocky Knob playground; I will come to that in a moment.

When it comes to local suburban playgrounds, I know that they are important to the families of Canberra, and I think that it is good to have a discussion about them here in the chamber. Despite the very personal nature of Mrs Jones’s speech, I would like to assure her that, as both the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services and also the Minister for Sport and Recreation, I have a good understanding of the importance of play spaces to children and the Canberra community as a whole.

Play spaces, playgrounds and parks are a very significant part of Canberra’s open space network. They have been since the creation of the city, and they continue to be one of the things that Canberrans love about living here. Play spaces are an integral part of encouraging an active lifestyle for Canberra citizens from a young age, and that has many beneficial effects throughout a person’s life, particularly general health and wellbeing.

Every day, thousands of children and their families enjoy the high quality playgrounds that we have in this city. As the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, I am proud to work with our park staff to keep our playgrounds and parks clean and safe. Although I welcome Mrs Jones’s interest in this issue, it is unfortunate that members of the Liberal Party continually try to talk this city down. We see that all the time when they say, “Oh, the city is unkempt,” et cetera, et cetera. I know that the park staff are out there every single day, doing their best to keep this city to as high a standard as possible.

The National Capital Development Commission created a hierarchy for parks many decades ago as part of the concept of creating a “model city”. This resulted in parks and playgrounds being located within a 400-metre radius of each and every house in Canberra. The design, size and diversity of the parks and their associated playgrounds use a three-tier model that includes small parks at local-suburban centres and larger parks at a neighbourhood level, with the largest parks being district parks such as the Kambah District Park, John Knight park in Belconnen, and the Yerrabi district park in Gungahlin. Seating is provided for carers at all play spaces, while picnic and barbecue facilities and public toilets are primarily located at the highest use town and district parks.

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