Page 1914 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 June 2015

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The government has also allocated over $268 million for police and emergency services in this budget to keep our community safe. Construction of the new Aranda fire and ambulance station is well underway. It will give the community in east Belconnen faster response times in an emergency. The Aranda station will complement the west Belconnen fire and ambulance station completed a few years ago. It will bring the latest facilities into operation and will provide a modern safety net over Belconnen.

Belconnen is generously blessed by public parks and green belts that give us space to wander and enjoy. They also require a lot of maintenance and mowing to keep them enjoyable, presentable and fire free, especially in spring. In fact, we have 1,273 hectares or 12.7 square kilometres of land broken up into small reserves, verges and patches that we regularly mow. That is over a quarter of Canberra’s urban open space. We are boosting the maintenance in these areas, with extra funding for more mowing, more cleaning, more weeding and more care. Our constituents have spoken and we have listened.

There is $8 million over the four years in the budget for more frequent mowing across Canberra’s 4½ thousand hectares of urban open space, weed control on major routes and maintenance of trees and shrubs, maintenance of Lake Ginninderra and other waterways and graffiti removal and prevention measures, and $200,000 is allocated for minor safety upgrades at playgrounds across Canberra, including the 145 playgrounds in Belconnen.

The Canberra community is also responsible for maintaining our environment, and this government’s commitment to a sustainable future is second to none. We can be justifiably proud of our substantial investments in renewable energy and reducing our carbon footprint. I am sure Minister Corbell will expand further on this theme and the big picture this morning. Citizen scientists, volunteers and schoolchildren also play an important part in monitoring and maintaining our environment.

One of the great local programs, the ACT and region frogwatch, has been doing great work monitoring and restoring frog habitats throughout Canberra. Their tadpole kits for schoolkids engage a new generation in caring for the environment whilst learning valuable scientific lessons. I met with the frogwatch and the Ginninderra catchment group last year, along with other Ginninderra MLAs, about the threat to their work from the slashing of federal government funding. Their funding from the federal national Landcare program was another victim of federal cutbacks and is due to cease on 31 December this year.

Their program involves over 12,500 volunteers. Over the last 12 years they have performed around 4,000 frog monitoring surveys at over 500 sites. They have recorded new species such as the green and golden bell frog and the Rocky River frog. Given the great community engagement of frogwatch and their contribution to our environment’s biodiversity, I am pleased to say the ACT government will be able to step in with funding to support their great work. The ACT government has identified $66,000 for the frogwatch program to continue the annual frog census across the ACT, spread over the next few years, up to the submission of the 2017 annual census report. This is a great community initiative in our locality that I am proud of and which we can support while they in turn support our community and our environment.

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