Page 179 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 11 February 2015

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There is little point in having a website that outlines what the government is doing if, in fact, it does not do that. Again, it seems a poor use of taxpayer resources if there is supposed to be openness and transparency in government and certainly, in this instance, there is not. The key word in the motion is “meaningful”. The current schedule clearly is not meaningful. Mrs Jones goes on to say in her motion:

… conduct genuine and meaningful community consultation for each playground that is scheduled for maintenance, an upgrade or identified for removal.

If the government indeed does that, there will not be the need for parents to get upset; there will not be the need for the minister to intervene. But I am not confident that this government will do more than pay lip-service to the needs of families, especially in the older, established suburbs.

We know from the hundreds of complaints we get that lights are old and not working, that trees are overgrown, that the myriad of open grassed areas are weed infested and that footpaths, where they do exist, are often uneven and serious trip hazards. All those are to be expected in a city that is maturing. But, just like the schools that are gaining a bit of age, there seems to be no real awareness of the need for regular and also preventative maintenance.

The squeaky wheel syndrome is almost a hallmark of this government. They seem to operate on the basis of “We will just let things lapse” or, in the case of the playground, “We will just quietly shut it down and see what happens.” That is definitely not good enough.

The residents in Narrabundah and similar older suburbs, who, coincidentally, are also the victims of significant rate rises due to, in part, larger than average block sizes, are getting sick of being treated as second-class citizens. As they point out regularly to us, if the government can find a way to fund a tramway then they must be able to allocate resources for essential maintenance of local amenities. It should not require the intervention of a minister to determine whether a playground needs a couple of thousand dollars for repairs. The fact that it did goes to the heart of the inefficiencies and the lack of planning which are hallmarks of this tired government. I support this motion by Mrs Jones.

MS FITZHARRIS (Molonglo) (3.56): I welcome the opportunity today to respond to Mrs Jones’s motion regarding suburban playgrounds across Canberra and I speak in support of Minister Rattenbury’s amendment. I agree that playgrounds are important for children, for families and for the broader community. I agree they are a core municipal service and they must be maintained and renewed. I agree that they promote an active lifestyle for children and adults and contribute to our community’s wellbeing.

I know personally how important they are for children’s play and especially for parents’, often mums’, wellbeing. As many people in our community and in this chamber know, they are also lifeblood for stay-at-home mums and dads every day across the city. Every weekend many are busy, noisy places.

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