Page 178 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 11 February 2015

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(f) that the Government is committed to undertaking community consultation in relation to the playground strategy.”.

I commend the amendment to the Assembly.

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (3.50): I am pleased to support my fellow Molonglo MLA Mrs Jones in her motion today expressing concern at what amounts to be a cavalier disregard for Canberra families. Of course I am referring to the Rocky Knob playground in Rocky Knob Park in Narrabundah, but it could happen to any playground in any suburb in Canberra. By the minister’s explanation, I am really intrigued as to how, with all of these evaluations going on, such an occurrence could happen. I would be interested in further updates on this from the minister.

Mrs Jones is well known for her advocacy for children’s services in this city. As a frequent user of such family resources as playgrounds, she is well versed in their popularity, their value and the role they play in developing healthy lifestyles for our young people.

When I first learnt of this playground closing, it came as somewhat of a surprise to me. The park area in which the play equipment is located is quite generous in size and no doubt provides valuable open space for the many families in the area to run and play. Clearly, the playground is a great local attraction. I had not heard of any community concerns as to its dangerous state and assumed it was just like so many of our local parks and open spaces, suffering from a lack of mowing and removal of noxious weeds and other debris and maintenance of equipment.

Indeed, it is like so many of our open spaces. It needs attention. The area is one that requires regular mowing and attention to eucalypt trees that shed bark and branches and, of course, the dreaded African lovegrass which this government appears to be reluctant to address. Like all equipment that is used frequently by children of all ages, it needs regular inspection and repair.

So the closing of the playground equipment came as a blunt surprise to many local families. But I think even more surprising than the sudden decision to close it was the just as quick decision to not close it. I say “surprising” because it took a minister to make an inspection and assess that it could be remediated for just a couple of thousand dollars to reverse the decision. Why did it require the minister himself to make the assessment? Surely others in his department are capable of such things. And why was the original decision to close it made, given that the repair cost was so small? It seems a careless and less than efficient way to run a department. The minister should not have to visit every playground to assess its condition.

If you go onto the government website you will see there is a schedule of supposedly planned upgrades and indications of what areas are to be remediated. I am not sure whether the Rocky Knob playground was listed in any of these upgrades but, as Mrs Jones has indicated in her motion, Mr Rattenbury needs to “publish a meaningful maintenance schedule, along with a renewal plan and the list of playgrounds intended to be removed across the city”. I would be interested to know how many actual playgrounds have been closed.

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