Page 541 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

the Belconnen area. There are quite a few. She certainly made a colourful contribution to the debate and probably selectively brought out a few facts, so it is worth reflecting on what is actually happening on the ground.

In terms of long grass, as members will be aware, grass growth varies depending on the season. During this summer Canberra has experienced an exceptional season. It has been particularly wet, with above average rainfalls across the city. This has been great news for farmers in the ACT and surrounding areas, who are having such a good season. It has also been great news for Canberra’s gardeners. Canberra is certainly looking green for this time of year and people’s gardens are looking so healthy, although, as I imagine members in this place would have noticed, it is quite hard to keep up with the growth. We are all having the same experience with our gardens as is happening throughout the entire city.

There has been a reduced need for watering this summer, which has certainly helped the thousands of new trees and shrubs that TAMS have planted along our roads, parks and town centres over the past few years. The rainfall has reduced the need for watering, which has been great for filling the Cotter Dam. I think it is much better to have lush growth than the dry and dusty conditions we became accustomed to during the years of drought not so long ago. But that is the glass half-full perspective on the additional rainfall. The glass half-empty scenario so well enunciated by Mrs Dunne creates the situation that has provided challenges for the maintenance of our public spaces.

TAMS mows over 4½ thousand hectares of urban spaces across the city, using a fleet of up to 80 mowers plus additional contract mowers along arterial roads. In the last three years the area of urban mowing has increased by approximately 315 hectares across Canberra. TAMS, at the start of a season, designs its mowing programs to account for average rainfall, as has been experienced in recent years. In an average year the grass growth slows to almost nothing from the end of December to late February. The mowing and weed spraying programs are designed to take this into account. We do not want to be running mowers around all through January when there is no grass growth. That would be terribly inefficient and I imagine members in this place would be complaining about the wastage.

But during the Christmas holidays this year the ACT received over 100 millimetres of rain. The continuing rainfall during summer has resulted in extraordinary grass growth, requiring mowers to be operating when they are not normally required. As a result, work programs have been reviewed and additional resources allocated to get the mowing back on schedule. This includes staff working longer hours and weekends in the Belconnen region. TAMS has also engaged additional casual staff and local mowing contractors. We are reviewing the mowing program weekly to ensure resources are allocated as efficiently as possible. I was the first to admit when I was in Belconnen the other day that I was not happy with the state of things, but I do ask Canberra residents to be patient and acknowledge that we have had an extraordinary summer. The team that do the mowing are working as hard as possible to keep up with what has been an out of character season.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video